Governor-General of Australia begins State visit to Vietnam hinh anh 1Governor-General of Australia Peter Cosgrove is welcomed at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on May 23 afternoon (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Governor-General of Australia Peter Cosgrove and his spouse on May 23 started a four-day State visit to Vietnam at the invitation of President Tran Dai Quang.

The visit takes place at a time when the two countries are celebrating the 45th founding anniversary of diplomatic ties (February 26) and bilateral ties are developing strongly, with a milestone being the elevation of ties to the level of strategic partnership in March 2018.

The visit also affirms Vietnam’s foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralisation and diversification of international relations as well as the great importance that Vietnam attaches to promoting friendship and strategic partnership with Australia.

Australia considers Vietnam a key partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and highly values its role in the bloc.

The two countries have cooperated effectively in the field of security and defence through the exchange of delegations and cooperation agreements on counter-crimes, immigration management, illegal migration prevention, information and experience sharing, and English training.

The two countries have coordinated closely at regional and international forums such as ASEAN, East Asia Summit (EAS), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, and the United Nations (UN).

Over the past 45 years, Vietnam and Australia have focused on cooperation in economy and trade. Australia is now the eighth biggest trade partner of Vietnam. Two-way trade records annual average growth of over 7 percent, reaching nearly 6.5 billion USD in 2017, a year-on-year rise of 22.2 percent.

Australia now ranks 20th among 126 countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 412 investment projects worth 1.8 billion USD, focusing on industry and construction, processing industry, services, education, and agro-forestry-fisheries.

Vietnam is running 44 investment projects in Australia with total capital of 387.1 million USD, concentrating on processing and manufacturing industry, arts, entertainment, mining and services.

The official development assistance (ODA) constitutes an important factor in enhancing the bilateral relationship. Australia is one of the biggest providers of non-refundable ODA for Vietnam, averagely 92.7 million AUD in the 2013-2018 period, helping the Southeast Asian country with poverty reduction, especially in the Mekong Delta.

Australia plans to provide an additional 84.2 million AUD in ODA for Vietnam in 2018-2019, focusing on economic reform, capacity enhancement, gender equality, and livelihood improvement.

Bilateral cooperation in tourism, education and science-technology is also growing. In 2017, Vietnam welcomed nearly 370,500 Australian visitors, up 15.5 percent against the previous year.

Regarding education, Australia is providing nearly 100 scholarships annually for Vietnamese students. Around 30,000 Vietnamese students and postgraduates are studying in Australia at present.-VNA