Viet Nam News
A partnership covering security, economy and innovation marks growing relations between Australia and Viet Nam, Australian Ambassador Craig Chittick said in an message marking Australia’s National Day.
Today is the National Day of Australia, a day when all Australians celebrate their national achievements and character.
But it is also important for nations, especially nations in the same region, like Australia and Việt Nam, to co-operate, to build friendships and relationships, to better meet the challenges of the modern world.
So I would like to use this opportunity of “Australia Day” to reflect on the friendship between Australia and Việt Nam, and highlight some of the key areas of co-operation that I see coming up in the year ahead.
I first visited Việt Nam in 1998, and have returned many times between then and the start of my term as Ambassador in July 2016. The changes that I’ve seen in that time, and the progress in our bilateral relationship continue to astound me every day.
Our friendship and co-operation extends across almost every field, but can be summarised in three broad areas – a security partnership, an economic partnership, and an innovation partnership.
We have many shared regional interests, including maintaining stability, security and prosperity. Our economic partnership is very broad and extends from trade to development assistance – focusing on private sector development, gender equality, and building a highly skilled workforce. On the innovation front, there are countless examples of our collaboration, including in science, agribusiness and technology.
Our cultural relationship is also strong, with extensive people-to-people links building on the ties of over 220,000 Australians who have Vietnamese ancestry, and over 50,000 Vietnamese alumni of Australian education institutions. Australian students are also coming to Việt Nam in increasing numbers through the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan initiative. And Vietnamese food is emerging as one of the most popular foods in Australia – one of the highlights for me in my first six months in Việt Nam has been tasting all the fantastic food here, such as phở, bánh mỳ, and bún thịt nướng.
In the year ahead, I hope to further strengthen our relationship across all areas, but there are a few particular highlights that I’d like to reflect on.
2017 is a significant year for Việt Nam as it hosts APEC – an Australian initiative which has become the premier regional economic forum. Australia is already working closely with Viet Nam to ensure the year is a success as it prepares to host ministers and leaders from some of the world’s biggest economies.
Gender equality is a priority for the Australian Government at home and in our foreign and economic diplomacy. Here in Việt Nam, Australia recently launched its first ever gender equality strategy for the country, in which we outline our priority areas and our commitment to improving the quality of life for women and girls in Việt Nam.
Another priority will be our second Taste of Australia month, an annual event. Throughout April, we will be promoting healthy and delicious Australian food and beverages in retail outlets, restaurants and hotels across Việt Nam. I encourage everyone to look out for our Taste of Australia signage and try some Australian produce.
In June, Đà Nẵng and Nha Trang will both host major cultural festivals. Australia will feature in both, including through participating in the Đà Nẵng fireworks competition, which we won in 2015.
And in November, we will be opening the Cao Lãnh Bridge, one of our biggest international development projects. Like the Mỹ Thuận Bridge that opened some 17 years ago, Cao Lãnh will improve connectivity and the livelihoods of people living in the Mekong Delta region. The bridge represents the deep and longstanding friendship between our countries.
These are just some of the highlights of our relationship in the year ahead.
We celebrated the western New Year a few weeks ago, Australia Day today, and Vietnamese families will be coming together to celebrate Tết over the next few days.
As we all embrace new years and new beginnings, I look forward to playing my part in further strengthening and deepening the co-operation and friendship between our two countries in the year ahead.
Happy Australia Day, and Chúc mừng năm mới to all!