Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Chairwoman of the National Assembly (NA) Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân and Speaker of the House of Representatives of Australia Tony Smith had talks in Hà Nội yesterday, seeking ways to solidify the countries’ relations.
Welcoming her guest’s official visit, Chairwoman Ngân said the trip is significant amid the 45th anniversary of the countries’ diplomatic ties and enhanced political relations. In particular, the elevation of bilateral relations to a strategic partnership last March created a new important framework for enhancing all-round co-operation.
She noted Việt Nam has always treasured its ties with Australia, which plays a growing role in the region and the world, and is one of its key partners.
She expressed her delight that Australia is one of the leading trade and investment partners of her country. Bilateral trade has risen by more than 7 per cent each year, hitting US$6.5 billion in 2017 and $3.62 billion in the first half of 2018. Australia has 416 investment projects worth a total $1.8 billion in Việt Nam at present, ranking 20th among the 126 countries and territories investing in the Southeast Asian nation.
Valuing Australia’s aid for Vietnamese agricultural products, Chairwoman Ngân said Việt Nam would help Australian firms increase their Vietnamese investments.
At the talks, the two leaders noted with satisfaction that Australia’s official development assistance for Việt Nam had resulted in some encouraging outcomes. Notably, the Cao Lãnh Bridge, inaugurated on May 27 during a visit by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, is a symbol of the countries’ strategic partnership.
The host asked Australia to continue assisting Việt Nam in infrastructure, agriculture and rural development, poverty reduction, climate change combat and human resource development.
Regarding defence and security, the two sides said bilateral ties in this area were becoming more substantive, trustworthy and stable, especially in participating in United Nations peacekeeping missions, fighting terrorism and trans-national crimes.
Chairwoman Ngân called on Australia to further help Việt Nam address the consequences of unexploded ordnances (UXO) and provide information about missing Vietnamese soldiers, as agreed in a memorandum of understanding inked in 2015.
She applauded Australia’s White Paper Foreign Policy, released in November 2017, that prioritises relations with Southeast Asia, including Việt Nam. She also praised the country’s increasing role in the region, particularly in disaster relief.
The NA leader affirmed that Việt Nam would work to strengthen Australia’s relations with ASEAN and other regional countries.
She also lauded the two countries’ co-operation at regional and international forums, including the United Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Partnership (APEC), ASEAN, the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other ASEAN-led mechanisms.
To reinforce legislative ties, the Chairwoman asked the two parliaments to boost mutual visits to share legislative experience, supervise and support their respective governments to realise the commitments in the Plan of Action for 2016-2019 and other agreements, create more favourable conditions for people-to-people exchange and promote the role of parliamentary friendship groups and friendship associations.
There are now nearly 30,000 Vietnamese students in Australia while about 1,000 Australian students have come to Việt Nam under the New Colombo Plan. Ngân asked Australia to continue helping her country develop high-quality human resources.
She highlighted the growth in tourism co-operation, with nearly 400,000 Australians visiting Việt Nam in 2017. The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines runs 18 direct flights a week to major cities in Australia. The budget carrier Vietjet Air is also planning to open a direct route linking Brisbane and Hồ Chí Minh City in 2019.
She also asked Australia to continue helping Vietnamese citizens join the Work and Holiday programme, and the nearly 300,000 Vietnamese expatriates to integrate into the local society.
For his part, Speaker Tony Smith said the recent visits between the two parliaments and governments had shown the strong ties between Australia and Việt Nam.
He said that the countries should enhance co-ordination in ratifying and implementing the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Discussing co-operation areas mentioned by Chairwoman Ngân, he said they were important to people-to-people connections. He voiced his belief that Australian and Vietnamese students, entrepreneurs and labourers in each other’s countries were ambassadors helping enhance bilateral relations.
Smith said his country had a successful agricultural community and wanted to learn about the agricultural experience of Việt Nam. He noted that the New Colombo Plan, which sends Australian students to Viet Nam, had been a success and had received domestic support.
At the talks, the two leaders said maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight over the East Sea was critical to all countries in the region. They also underlined the importance of resolving disputes by peaceful means on the basis of international law.
Later yesterday, the top legislator of Việt Nam hosted a banquet in honour of Speaker Smith and the delegation of the Australian House of Representatives. –VNs