Aussie representative: It was busy year to cement bilateral relations

The Australian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City said Wednesday that 2010 was a busy year for the Australian Government in Vietnam as many things were done to grow and strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

The diplomat, Mr. Graeme Swift, was speaking at a reception the Australian Consulate General held at the New World Hotel Saigon to celebrate Australia Day, January 26.

Australian Consul General Graeme Swift (L) and Mr. Le Minh Tri, Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, toast during the Australia Day reception (Photo: Tuong Thuy)

“Our two-way trade and investment has been at the core of the remarkable growth in our relations, with Vietnam now one of Australia’s most important and valued trade partners in the Asia Pacific region,” he said.

“The historic ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, which came into force on the 1st of January last year, has further strengthened our trade relationship.

“Education links between Australia and Vietnam also remained strong in 2010. 
Australia remains a leading study destination for Vietnamese students.
 
“The number of high level Australian Government visits to Vietnam over the years demonstrates the strength of the Australia Vietnam.

“The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard’s visit to Hanoi for the East Asia Summit in October last year was a resounding success,” said Mr. Swift.

Ms. Gillard announced an aid contribution of AU$160 million towards the design and construction of a new bridge in the Mekong Delta – the Cao Lanh Bridge in Dong Thap Province.

The bridge will form a vital part of a major new road transport network that will link people and markets across the delta to the rest of Southeast Asia. Construction is expected to commence in 2012.
 
The funding represents the largest single Australian aid activity in Southeast Asia, said Mr. Swift.

“The project reflects the depth and strength of our relationship with Vietnam, bringing Australia’s total overseas development assistance to Vietnam in 2010-2011 to over AU$119 million.”

He added the Consulate’s work in Vietnam covers a very broad area – consular assistance to our citizens; trade facilitation, trade promotion and investment; visas and immigration; cultural events; the promotion of Australian education; and police liaison.

“In particular, I should like to note the opening of the Vietnam Australia Joint Transnational Crime Centre in March 2010 by the Australian Federal Police in conjunction with the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security.

“The JTCC is a first in Vietnam and will assist the Vietnamese Police to develop criminal intelligence and investigate transnational crime affecting Vietnam.” 

The Consul General, on behalf of the Australian Government, also expressed his “heartfelt thanks” to all Australians involved in fundraising efforts to support people in Queensland who are currently enduring one-in-the-century floods in the state.

He added that that Australia-Vietnam relationship has prospered over 38 years of diplomatic relations, and “this could not have been achieved without the support and assistance of the Australian community in Ho Chi Minh City.

By Tuong Thuy

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