Vietnamese and Australian delegations led by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Australian counterpart Malcom Turnbull at a meeting in Vietnam in November 2017 (Source: VNA)

Sydney (VNA) – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s upcoming official visit to Australia in March will set up an important milestone in the relations between the two nations, creating a solid foundation to raise the bilateral ties, said Vietnamese Ambassador to Australia Ngo Huong Nam.

In a recent interview with Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Sydney, Nam said the visit is of special importance as it takes place at the time when the two countries celebrate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties, 20 years since the establishment of defence relations, eight years of comprehensive partnership and two years of enhanced comprehensive partnership.

As the first official visit to Australia by PM Phuc, it will contribute to affirming Vietnam’s consistent policy of prioritizing the enhancement of relations with Australia, for the benefits of the two nations’ people and for peace, security and prosperity in the region and the world, he noted.

Taking place on the threshold of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, the visit reflects the two countries’ strong commitment to regional peace, stability and development, he added.

The ambassador also highlighted the flourishing development of the Vietnam-Australia relationship across pillars of politics, economy, security-defence, sci-technology, and culture-education.

The increasing mutual visits by the two countries’ leaders contributed to creating new opportunities and impulses to develop bilateral cooperation in an intensive, practical and effective manner, he said.

According to the ambassador, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Australian counterpart Malcom Turnbull declared an intention to elevate the Vietnam-Australia Comprehensive Partnership to a Strategic Partnership during the latter’s attendance in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Week 2017 in Vietnam, and the two sides planned to sign an official document on this matter during PM Phuc’s upcoming visit to Australia.

Together with flourishing political ties, economic cooperation has recorded impressive figures, with two-way trade surging by over 200 times in nearly three decades, from 32.3 million USD in 1990 to 6.46 billion USD in 2017.

Australia ranks 19th among 116 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, with 396 projects worth 1.82 billion USD.

The two sides are working to complete negotiations on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreements.

Cooperation in security-defence has been bolstered effectively on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Defence Cooperation signed in 2010. Australia has actively helped Vietnam improve capacity to join UN peacekeeping missions, and provided English courses for Vietnamese officers. The two sides also boosted maritime cooperation and conducted joint sea patrols.

The two sides successfully organised the first annual Defence Policy Dialogue in October 2017, and are working hard to build a common vision on defence cooperation.

Collaboration between Vietnam and Australia in culture-education also saw new breakthroughs. About 30,000 Vietnamese students are pursuing study in Australia. Australia is one of the ten tourist markets of Vietnam, with more than 307,000 of Australians visiting the Southeast Asian nation in 2017. Vietnam is also one of the most attractive destinations for Australia students in the the Australian Government's New Colombo Plan programme.

Assistance provided by Australia for Vietnam in science and technology has helped the country create spectacular breakthroughs in the last 30 years.

The two countries have maintained effective cooperation and coordination at regional and global multilateral forums, especially the AEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asia Summit, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and APEC

Ambassador Nam believed that these results will lay a solid foundation for the two countries to establish their Strategic Partnership, building great orientations with long-term vision for bilateral relations in the time to come.

He said his embassy will do its best to further deepen and expand bilateral cooperation in the coming time, especially in economy, security-defence, and people-to-people exchange.

Priority will be paid to accelerating the negotiation, signing, and implementation of the CPTPP and the RCEP to boost free trade and international integration, making it easy for Vietnamese goods to access the Australian market towards lifting two-way trade to 10 billion USD.

The agency will also take the advantage of existing bilateral cooperation mechanisms to boost collaboration in such potential fields as clean agriculture, maritime economy, labour, tourism and climate change adaptation, he affirmed.-VNA