09:05 | 16/06/2018 Cooperation
(VEN) - The recent visit to Vietnam by Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove to mark 45 years of diplomatic relations has opened up new opportunities for cooperation, particularly in economic relations.
The three-day visit came several months after both countries agreed to elevate bilateral ties to a strategic partnership. The two sides agreed to hold events across Vietnam celebrating 45 years of diplomatic ties.
The Governor-General met with President Tran Dai Quang, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, and Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong. He also visited the Level-2 Field Hospital No. 1, based at the Military Hospital 175 in Ho Chi Minh City.
After the meeting with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang, Governor-General Cosgrove told at a press conference that bilateral trade, investment and development cooperation are expanding. Leaders of the two countries agreed that much of the potential for cooperation and trade is still untapped.
Tran Dai Quang asked the two sides to scrutinize trade barriers, which may affect key export items, including Vietnamese farm products and seafood; encourage Vietnamese and Australian businesses to increase investment, particularly in fields where Australia enjoys advantages and Vietnam has needs such as energy, infrastructure, telecommunications, finance and banking, mining, manufacturing, high-tech farming, education, and tourism.
Australia is currently Vietnam’s eighth largest trade partner. Its major exports to Vietnam are fossil coal, wheat and cotton, while Vietnamese major exports to this market include telephones and accessories, computers, electronic ware and accessories, crude oil, and footwear.
Two-way trade grew by an average of seven percent each year hitting almost US$6.5 billion in 2017, a 22.2 percent increase against 2016. Vietnam annually exports more than US$550 million worth of goods to Australia, of which seafood including frozen shrimp accounts for 25 percent. Australia has opened its door to Vietnamese litchi, mango and dragon fruit.
Australia currently has 412 projects with total investment capital of US$1.8 billion in Vietnam, taking 20th place among the 126 countries and territories investing in the country. Most Australian projects are in the areas of industry and construction, processing, services, education, agriculture and forestry, and seafood.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has 44 direct investment projects with total capital of US$387.1 million in Australia, mostly in processing, manufacturing, art, entertainment, mining and services.
Both Vietnam and Australia are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The recently signed CPTPP in particular is expected to create an engine for trade growth between the two countries.
In addition, official development assistance (ODA) is also a vital factor for increased relations. Australia is one of Vietnam’s largest bilateral grant aid providers at an average of AUD92.7 million per year from 2013-2018. According to Peter Cosgrove, the Cao Lanh Bridge in the Mekong Delta inaugurated on May 27 was built with US$160 million of Australian capital and would help improve people’s livelihoods and the local economy.
Nguyen Huong & Nguyen Quang