Australia in the Mekong Delta

17:08 | 01/09/2016 Economy- Society

(VEN) - Last week, the Australian Consul-General Karen Lanyon visited the Mekong Delta for the first time. She visited Đồng Tháp, An Giang, Kiên Giang, Bạc Liêu and Cần Thơ provinces, met with local authorities, Australian companies and Australian alumni in the region, and inspected Australian development assistance projects in the Delta.

Australia in the Mekong Delta

Since 1991 Australia has committed approximately AUD670 million in ODA to the economic and social development of the Mekong Delta. Ms. Lanyon visited the My Thuan Bridge (constructed 1997-2003, AUD64 million) and Australia’s largest aid project in mainland Southeast Asia, the Cao Lanh Bridge (construction 2011-2018, AUD160 million). These projects have helped Vietnam remove bottlenecks in its transportation network, improve road access and safety, and bring new economic opportunities to the people of the Mekong Delta by connecting the region to the major economic hubs of Vietnam. 

 Australia also provides valuable assistance to Vietnam through water, sanitation and hygiene improvement projects worth AUD141 million, which benefit hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese including ethnic minorities and women and children in the Mekong Delta. On this trip, Ms. Lanyon visited a Direct Aid Program (DAP)-funded project in An Giang province where Australian Government funds were used to build toilets and sanitary systems for 100 households in a remote area. Ms. Lanyon expressed that ‘I am very proud to travel across the Mekong Delta and to see how Australian development assistance has changed and improved local communities’ quality of life, even in the most remote areas of the region’. Ms. Lanyon also witnessed how the Australian Government is helping to strengthen coastal communities’ capacity in climate change adaptation mitigation through a joint project with German development agency GIZ in Sóc Trăng and Bạc Liêu provinces.

Australia is building strong business and investment linkages in the Mekong Delta. During this provincial trip, Ms. Lanyon met with Austfeed, a Vietnam-Australia agribusiness integration corporation. Last year the company invested VND675 billion in a livestock feed factory in Đồng Tháp, expected to open in June 2017.

The Viet-Uc Company is another leading example of Australia and Vietnam’s cooperation in both business and technology in the Mekong Delta. This joint-venture is utilising new technologies developed in collaboration with Australia’s leading scientific research organisation, CSIRO, MDB Australia and Australian universities, to raise high-quality shrimp from nursery to grow-out stages for export. Viet-Uc has become one of the best known growth stories in Vietnamese aquaculture, but is even more celebrated for their transfer of Australian high technology to local producers and partners, improving the efficiency and capacity of the Vietnamese aquaculture industry.

To enhance the economic development of the Delta, Australia and Vietnam collaborate on agricultural research. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has focused on the development of the mango and longan industries in southern Vietnam, and in Dong Thap province in particular, since 2014. Australia’s agricultural scientists share their expertise and experience to assist local farmers to increase agricultural production, enhance adoption of new agribusiness technology, and promote market and value chain development for fresh and processed tropical fruits.

The Australian Government’s human resource development initiatives have benefitted the Mekong Delta through 282 Government scholarships to the region. In Can Tho the Australian Consul-General hosted a function for Australian alumni to celebrate this extensive education relationship between Australia and Vietnam. More than 40,000 Vietnamese are alumni of Australian universities, and many of them utilize their high-quality education and life skills gained in Australia to play important roles in society as government ministers, leading businesspeople, researchers, scientists and medical practitioners all over Vietnam.