Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung arrived in Sydney on March 16, commencing his official visit to Australia at the invitation of his Australian counterpart Tony Abbot.

The visit, the second of its kind, is expected to consolidate and deepen the comprehensive partnership between the two countries.

It is also hoped to increase development aid and foreign direct investment (FDI) between the two countries while expanding bilateral cooperation in agriculture, education, mining, construction, processing, finance and banking, and services.

Vietnam and Australia formed diplomatic relations in 1973. The two countries elevated their relationship to Comprehensive Partnership in 2009, the benefits of which have been seen across sectors. Both work closely at regional and international forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the East Asia Summit, and the United Nations (UN).

In 2013, Vietnam and Australia carried out a series of activities to mark the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

Economically, Australia is Vietnam ’s 8th biggest trade partner with trade climbing to roughly 6 billion USD in 2014 from 5.1 billion USD the year before. The value of trade has increased annually by 10 percent over the last decade, with Vietnam recording the trade surplus. Vietnamese key export staples include crude oil, mobile phones and spare parts.

Australia officially recognised Vietnam as a market economy at the 14th ASEAN Summit in 2009.

The Southern Pacific country is currently running 320 investment projects worth 1.65 billion USD in Vietnam , primarily focused on industry, construction, services, education, processing and agriculture-forestry-fisheries. Meanwhile, Vietnam is operating 17 FDI projects in Australia with a combined capital of 137 million USD, mainly in processing and hospitality services.

Vietnam is one of the largest recipients of Australian official development assistance (ODA) with over 130 million AUD per year. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Australia committed over 138.9 million AUD in ODA to Vietnam with 141.3 million AUD the following year. It also pledged a non-refundable aid package of 160 million AUD for Vietnam to build the Cao Lanh Bridge , scheduled to be completed in October 2017.

In education, Australia is currently hosting 30,000 Vietnamese students and has granted 4,000 scholarships to Vietnamese students over the past 40 years. The country has pledged an additional 1,380 scholarships from 2012-2015, including 272 long-term and 88 short-term grants in 2013. The two countries also signed an education cooperation agreement for 2013-2018 and established a joint working group on the field.

Positive developments were also seen in labour, agriculture, tourism and interpersonal exchanges.-VNA