Vietnam, Australia boost agricultural cooperation

10:42 | 06/01/2017 Cooperation

(VEN) - At the first high-level dialogue on agricultural policies recently held in Hanoi, the Vietnamese and Australian governments agreed to boost bilateral cooperation in agricultural production and trade, looking towards a sustainable agriculture.  

Important partner

Apart from large volumes of cattle and milk products, Australia has also exported grapefruit and citrus fruit to Vietnam, said Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Craig Chittick at the dialogue. The Australian side is considering supporting farmers in northern Vietnam and start-ups founded by women entrepreneurs from the private sector.

Vietnam and Australia have implemented many cooperation programs in forestry, aquaculture, and animal husbandry. Over the past two decades, Australia has joined research projects on eucalyptus and acacia varieties to help Vietnam expand forestation to promote timber and wood product exports. Currently, Australia is helping Vietnam apply modern technologies in livestock feed production, aquaculture, and dairy cattle breeding. In October 2016, the An Vinh Group bought about 2,300sq.km of land in Australia to breed cattle.

“Agriculture is one of Vietnam’s priority areas. Australia will continue investing in agricultural research cooperation programs, as well as boosting technology transfer to help the Vietnamese agricultural sector achieve its development goals. Australia considers Vietnam an important agricultural partner, and we wish to find more investment and business opportunities here. Our two countries are striving to minimize the impacts of climate change and improve the management of water resources,” the ambassador added.

Recognizing Australia as an important partner for Vietnam in agricultural development, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said the two countries have implemented many cooperation programs helping Vietnam ensure sufficient clean water supplies for rural areas and cope with climate change, especially in the Mekong Delta and coastal areas. The Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) wishes that the Australian side would continue sharing policy making and agricultural marketing experiences to help Vietnam overcome difficulties in these fields and promote bilateral agricultural trade.

Australian Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Water Resources David John Parker (middle) speaks at the dialogue

Dialogue mechanism

At the dialogue, the two sides discussed policies related to training, scientific research, and trade in the fields of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, as well as directions for future cooperation. Vietnam currently is Australia’s 15th largest trading partner, while Australia ranks eighth among Vietnam’s trading partners. Bilateral trade grew from US$32.3 million in 1990 to US$5.1 billion in 2013 and approximately US$6 billion in 2014. Both countries are big agricultural producers and exporters. Last year, Vietnam exported about US$500 million worth of agricultural products to Australia and spent almost that much on agricultural product and material imports from this market.

Australian Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Water Resources David John Parker hoped that high-level dialogues would help the two countries boost comprehensive cooperation. High-level dialogues offer a forum for the two countries to discuss measures to overcome geographical differences in order to facilitate business access to each other’s agricultural product markets and improve the quality of agricultural products,” David John Parker said.

According to Nguyen Quy Duong, Deputy Director of the MARD’s Plant Protection Department, agricultural trade between Vietnam and Australia grew rather well in 2015-2016. Since Vietnam reopened the domestic market to Australian citrus fruit and grapefruit, the import value of these kinds of products has increased strongly. In the first nine months of this year, Vietnam imported US$35 million worth of fruit and vegetables from Australia, up 166 percent compared with the same period last year. Vietnam also imported cotton and wheat from this market. Meanwhile, Vietnamese fruit and vegetable exports to Australia reached nearly US$17 million, a rise of 21 percent compared with the same period last year. In June 2016, Vietnam exported 30 tonnes of litchis to Australia. Since this July, more than 10 tonnes of Vietnamese mangoes have been exported to Australia.

Nguyen Thu Thuy, Deputy Head of the MARD’s Department of Animal Health, said that Vietnam has imported large volumes of Australian beef but remains yet to export any livestock products to this market. Meanwhile, according to Tran Dinh Luan, Deputy General Director of the Directorate of Fisheries, Vietnam has advantages in aquaculture and catching seafood. He wished that Vietnam would be able to export shrimp to Australia and welcomed cooperation from Australia in applying high technologies in aquaculture.

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Craig Chittick:

Agriculture is a major area of cooperation between Vietnam and Australia. Australia pledged to boost agricultural cooperation

with Vietnam in all aspects including trade, research, and investment.

PV