Viet Nam News
VIENNA – Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc began an official visit to Austria on Sunday as part of his trip to Europe.
Austria was one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic relations with Việt nam in 1972, when the Southeast Asian nation’s struggle for national independence was still ongoing.
The two countries have maintained all-round co-operation through regular high-level meetings and exchange of visits, along with co-operation at multilateral forums like the United Nations and ASEM.
In 1995, the two sides set up a joint working group to bolster collaborative ties in economy, trade and investment. In August, 2010, the group was upgraded to the Việt Nam-Austria intergovernmental committee at deputy ministerial level on co-operation in economy and trade. The committee held its 9th meeting in March last year.
Two-way trade has grown in recent years, surpassing US$4 billion in 2017. Việt Nam’s exports to Austria include telephones and spare parts, footwear, wood and wooden products, garments, machinery, equipment and spare parts. Meanwhile, the country imports pharmaceuticals, machinery, equipment, steel, paper, animal feed, and materials from Austria.
Austria is the 6th largest importer of Việt Nam in Europe. Việt Nam earned $2.58 billion from shipments to the central European country in the first seven months of 2018, up 47 per cent year on year, while spending $167 million purchasing Austrian goods, 16 per cent lower than the same time last year.
By August 2018, Austria ranked 43rd among 129 countries and territories investing in Việt Nam, with 31 valid projects valued at $143.9 million. Most of the projects are of small and medium size, focusing on processing, manufacturing, hotels, restaurants, and entertainment.
Regarding Austria’s Official Development Assistance (ODA), the preferential loans have been used to develop Việt Nam’s railway network, medical equipment, fire fighting and prevention capabilities, and vocational training, among others.
The two countries have also experienced thriving co-operation in culture. Austria annually sends experts to give lectures at the Hà Nội Academy of Theatre and Cinema, and the Việt Nam National Academy of Music. They inked a Memorandum of Understanding on cultural co-operation on the occasion of the visit to Việt Nam by then Austrian President Heinz Fischer in May 2012.
Austria grants some 20 post-graduate scholarships to Việt Nam every year, and the Austrian Embassy in Hà Nội has supported Vietnamese universities which offer German language training with teaching and studying material and equipment.
Austria is the first stop for PM Phúc during his trip to Europe, during which he will also pay official visits to Belgium and Denmark, make a working visit to the European Union and attend the 12th ASEM Summit (ASEM 12) and the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 Summit (P4G). – VNS