Forty years ago, on February 26, 1973, Vietnam and Australia officially established diplomatic ties, beginning a new stage in the friendship and multifaceted cooperation between the two sides.

The ties developed rapidly and strongly since 1993 when the two countries celebrated their 20 th anniversary of diplomatic relations. In May 1993, then Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet paid an official visit to Australia , the first high-level visit in the history of relations between the two sides.

Over the past 20 years, Vietnam and Australia have exchanged more than 20 high-level delegations including those of the Party, State, Government and National Assembly. Besides, leaders of the two countries held many meetings on the sidelines of international gatherings such as ASEM, APEC and EAS.

In September 2009, the relationship between Vietnam and Australia was upgraded to a “Comprehensive Partnership”. The Vietnam-Australia Action Programme for the 2010-2013 period was implemented, further strengthening and expanding their political ties, economic and trade cooperation as well as development and technical assistance and cooperation in a series of fields such as defence, education, the environment and people exchange.

The two sides have set up bilateral cooperation mechanisms including the J oint C ommittee for E conomic and T rade C o- o p, Strategic Dialogue 2+2, and Senior Consultancy on D evelopment A id.

Economic and trade cooperation has seen fast and great developments over the past time. In 1991, Australia was one of the countries to remove the trade ban against Vietnam . A number of Australian companies were recognised as pioneers in economic cooperation with Vietnam such as Telstra, BHP and ANZ.

Bilateral trade also enjoys strong growth. It grows by more than 20 percent each year, with two-way trade exceeding 5 billion USD in 2012, a fifteenfold increase from 20 years ago. Vietnam became Australia ’s 15 th largest trading partner while the later was Vietnam’s 13 th largest in 2012. With a combined investment capital of 1.3 billion USD, Australia is the 21 st biggest investor in Vietnam .

In terms of official development assistance (ODA), Australia always gives priority to Vietnam . Australia has provided 1.6 billion Australian dollars to Vietnam to date, focusing on infrastructure, education and training, hunger elimination and poverty reduction. Among others, My Thuan and Cao Lanh bridges are two outstanding projects built with Australian ODA. Australia provides 400 scholarships to Vietnamese students per annum, 4,000 in total.

Relations in the fields of defence, security, and science and technology between the two countries have also been strengthened.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese live in Australia . Meanwhile, more than 300,000 Australians visit Vietnam every year, stimulating cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Vietnam highly values Australia’s development over the years, helping the country become a big economy in the world and play an increasing regional and global role. Vietnam wishes to share and learn experiences from Australia , especially in mineral exploitation and processing, scientific application in agriculture, food hygiene and safety, and high-quality human resources training.

Based on the firm foundations of the 40-year relationship between the two sides and the two Governments and peoples’ determination, bilateral relations can expect a bright future.-VNA