The forthcoming visit to Australia by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on March 17-18, the second of its kind, is expected to consolidate and deepen the comprehensive partnership between the two countries.

The two countries agreed to elevate their relations to Comprehensive Partnership level in 2009, and this has developed well in various fields. Both are closely working together at regional and international forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the East Asia Summit (EAS), and the United Nations (UN).

In 2013, Vietnam and Australia carried out a series of activities to mark the 40 th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. The two sides have conducted many high-level exchanges, with the most recent meeting between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President Truong Tan Sang on the margin of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum Summit in Beijing in November 2014.

Vietnam supported Australia to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the 2013-2014 tenure, while Australia backed Vietnam to join the UN Human Rights Council in the 2014-2016 term.

On the economic front, Australia is the 8 th biggest trade partner of Vietnam with two-way trade climbing to approximately 6 billion USD in 2014 from 5.1 billion USD in 2013. Notably, this has seen an annual increase of 10 percent over the past decade, with Vietnam recording a trade surplus. Vietnamese key export staples include crude oil, mobile phones and spare parts.

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

The Pacific Ocean country is running 320 investment projects worth 1.65 billion USD in Vietnam , focusing on industry, construction, services, education, processing industry and agriculture-forestry-fisheries. Meanwhile, Vietnam currently counts 17 FDI projects in Australia with a combined capital of 137 million USD, mainly in the fields of processing, and accommodation and restaurant services.

Regarding bilateral security-defence cooperation, Vietnam is one of the biggest ODA recipients of Australian funding, worth over 130 million AUD per year. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Australia committed to provide Vietnam with over 138.9 million AUD in ODA, with 141.3 million AUD to follow the next year. It also pledged a non-refundable aid package of 160 million AUD for Vietnam to build Cao Lanh Bridge , which is scheduled to be completed in October 2017.

Turning to education, Australia is home to 30,000 Vietnamese students. Over the past 40 years, Australia has granted 4,000 scholarships to Vietnamese students. The country promised to offer 1,380 scholarships for Vietnamese students in 2012-2015, including 272 long-term and 88 short-term ones in 2013.

The two countries signed an education cooperation agreement for 2013-2018 and established a joint working group on the field.

Positive developments are also recorded in other fields such as labour, agriculture, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.-VNA