Australia and Vietnam bulk up partnerships

November 16, 2021 | 09:00
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Australia’s ongoing assistance to Vietnam’s economic recovery and green development, as well as extended collaboration under the Australia-Vietnam Strategic Partnership, were discussed during the official visit last week to Vietnam of the Australian minister for both foreign affairs and women.
Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne met with Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son
Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne met with Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son

The visit follows last month’s historic agreement to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership between ASEAN and Australia, which underscores Australia’s commitment to ASEAN’s central role in the Indo-Pacific.

During her visit, Marise Payne – who has been Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2018 and Minister for Women since 2019 – met with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, and Minister of Public Security To Lam. The minister also spoke at the ASEAN-Australia Women Peace and Security Dialogue and handed over critical equipment to support Vietnam’s vaccine rollout.

PM Chinh and Minister Payne discussed the breadth and depth of the bilateral relationship and welcomed the finalisation of the Australia-Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy and the signing of the Vietnam Australia Joint Statement on Commitment to Practical Climate Action, which PM Chinh and PM Morrison had concluded during COP26 in Glasgow.

During her visit to Hanoi, Minister Payne attended at the annual Australia-Vietnam Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, where she discussed with Minister Son the two countries’ growing economic engagement, cooperation on climate change, and joint activities to address strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific.

The ministers oversaw the announcement of a $4.7 million COVID-19 Green Economic Recovery Package for Vietnam, including the award of grants under the latest round of the Business Partnerships Program and a $2.9 million investment in sustainable rice production funded through the Mekong Australia Partnership. This package aligns with both countries’ recent commitment to move towards net zero emissions by 2050, as well as Australia’s announcement that it will double its climate finance commitments to $2 billion between 2020 and 2025.

The ministers also witnessed the signing of an MoU between Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on strengthened cooperation.

At the ASEAN-Australia dialogue themed “Women, peace and security: progressing implementation on the road to recovery from COVID-19”, Minister Payne highlighted Australia’s commitment to advance the region’s agenda under the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

“Accordingly, Australia will set aside $7.3 million for the strengthening of cooperation in women, peace, and security in the region,” she said.

Minister Son raised the topic of enhancing women’s involvement in regional peace and security. He also emphasised the relevance of the dialogue in maintaining the Vietnamese-initiated agenda on women empowerment in 2020, as well as promoting and facilitating the partners’ greater engagement in ASEAN cooperation activities, hence clearing the way for more talks on women’s roles in the region.

During her visit, Minister Payne then joined UNICEF representative in Vietnam, Rana Flowers, to formally hand over 1,910 vaccine refrigerators, five million syringes, and 50,000 safety boxes to Vietnam’s Minister for Health Nguyen Thanh Long.

She also announced that Australia would increase its commitment to share COVID-19 vaccine doses from Australia’s own supply by a further 2.7 million doses, lifting the total to more than 7.8 million doses.

Futhermore, the Canberra-Ngunnawal Room in the newly renovated Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV) was also inaugurated, highlighting the strong ties between Australia and the DAV, one of the region’s foremost diplomatic tertiary institutions, which counts many Australian alumni among its staff.

Minister Payne took the opportunity at the DAV to reveal that 60 Vietnamese students will this year be granted Australia Awards Scholarships to study master’s programmes in Australia’s world-class universities.

By Hue Chi

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