Vietnam-Australia relationship is stronger than ever: Aussie diplomat

The Vietnam-Australia relationship is now stronger than ever, the Australian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City said here on January 26, the Australia Day.

Delivering a speech at the Australia Day reception, Mr. Graeme Swift said he was “proud that the relationship is now stronger than ever.”

Australian Consul General Graeme Swift (R) shakes hands with Ho Chi Minh City Vice Chairman Le Minh Tri at the Australia Day reception in the city on Jan. 26 (Photo: Tuong Thuy)

“In February 2009 we signed the historic ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement which entered into force on January 1 this year. These 12 countries now have the makings of a bloc, an economy community, a common market of the East.”

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Australia has grown at an average of over 20% per year for the last five years, and in 2008 was worth over AUD8 billion, making Vietnam Australia’s fastest growing trading partner in ASEAN, he said.

“In September we signed the comprehensive partnership agreement during an official visit by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nong Duc Manh. This partnership has been developed to reinforce the strong relations between Australia and Vietnam across many areas.”

He mentioned various high-level visits during 2009 from both countries.

The Australian Consul General said in the fiscal year 2009-2010, the Australian Government will provide over AUD106 million in development assistance to Vietnam.

Mr. Swift said a strong development focus from his government will be on climate change as Vietnam will be one of the most affected countries.

“We have supported Vietnam in the formulation of the first National Target Program to Respond to Climate Change. We also place a high priority on disaster mitigation which forms a major part of any response to climate change adaptation.”

Regarding education, he said the number of Vietnamese students in Australia continues to grow. “Currently there are over 23,000 Vietnamese students studying across all levels and all faculties in Australia.”

“The educational opportunities we provide for Vietnamese students continue to build lasting link between our two peoples.”

Mr. Swift elaborated, “But it is not only these agreements and high-level visits and our deep links that develop the relationship. The strength of the relationship is a credit to all of you.”

By Tuong Thuy

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