Vietnam and Australia are finding ways to beef up their trade and investment ties. Nguyen Tat Thanh, Vietnam Ambassador to Australia, talked with VIR’s Nhat Ha about his thoughts on how to strengthen this cooperation, with a brighter outlook expected ahead.
The Australian Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Investment has paid an official visit to Vietnam to strengthen the trade relationship and promote investment in Australia. How do you evaluate the visit?
|Nguyen Tat Thanh, Vietnam Ambassador to Australia |
This was the first official ministerial visit from Australia to Vietnam in over 18 months – a great new start.
This is a good chance for both countries to strengthen the partnership within the multilateral framework, especially as Australia wishes to become a strategic partner with ASEAN. The visit of Minister Dan Tehan helped promote the cooperation in healthcare. On this occasion, Australia announced to grant Vietnam 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of this year – precious support from our longstanding partner.
Two-way trade between both countries so far this year has much improved compared to the same period last year. What are the reasons behind the impressive figure?
In the first six months of 2021, two-way trade grew by 45.37 per cent. Goods with large turnover included textiles, agricultural and aquatic products, and footwear.
There are two reasons for the elevated trade. Firstly, the two governments are increasingly trusting each other and care about supporting businesses more effectively. Throughout previous online meetings, the two countries’ leaders have been very proactive and creative to find practical solutions to solve difficulties for businesses. The role of localities is also remarkable, such as the opening of a trade and investment office in Ho Chi Minh City by Australia’s Victoria state. The Australian Trade and Investment Commission supports their businesses to access the Vietnamese market, and has been actively developing long-term strategic research and exhibitions to connect and promote the markets.
Secondly, businesses have been very proactive and dynamic, taking full advantage of opportunities. Over the past few months, businesses of both countries have realised mutual support and complemented each other, which is also the reason that the Australia-Vietnam Business Council was established on the occasion of Minister Tehan’s visit.
Australian investment into Vietnam has now reached approximately $1.92 billion, while Vietnamese investment into Australia stands at only around $200 million. What will be the new trends shaping the investment ties in both directions?
Both countries have not focused much on promoting investment. Large corporations often self-research and evaluate investment while smaller ones need the support from state agencies inside and outside the country.
Therefore, some Vietnamese groups like Hoa Phat, Sovico, and TH kept their investment in the Australian market while Australian businesses expand or newly invest in Vietnam, including Qualcomm.
To strengthen two-way investment, the most important step is to build mutual understanding and raise awareness of each other. For example, if Australian financiers understand the potential and strength of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, many could be ready to invest.
Similarly, many Vietnamese businesses would pay more attention to fields like agriculture, tourism, mining, and real estate in Australia if they knew how safe a destination Australia is.
The Australian government is looking forward to receiving direct investment from Vietnam. Meanwhile, we also have to improve our logistics system and further facilitate capital transfer. Most foreign investment focuses on exports, while the logistics costs are rather high at the moment.
Vietnamese businesses wish to export products such as shrimp and passion fruit, and import some Australian ore, coal, steel, and rare earth elements. How does Vietnam’s embassy support these endeavours?
In the past, we have closely coordinated with Australian partners to approve import licences for these products and received positive feedback. At the same time, we hosted many promotion campaigns to introduce Vietnamese products and organise forums for businesses of both countries. We understand that one of our important missions is economic diplomacy, including connecting businesses. We are ready to listen to their needs and support them when landing in Australia.