Australia's Senate President Scott Ryan (R) and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith (L) greet NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (Source: VNA)

 Canberra (VNA) – Vietnam prioritises developing cooperation and friendship with countries, while further deepening relations with its key partners, including Australia, National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan has affirmed.

The top legislator made the statement during her talks with Speaker of Australia’s House of Representatives Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan in Canberra on November 29 as part of her ongoing official visit to Australia.

The Vietnam NA backs the early upgrade of the Vietnam-Australia relationship to a strategic partnership, Ngan said, hailing effective economic cooperation between the two countries.

She noted that Australia is Vietnam’s eighth largest trade partner with two-way trade expanding by 10 percent a year. Australia is among Vietnam’s largest non-refundable official development assistance (ODA) providers, significantly contributing to raising livelihood, reducing poverty, improving the environment and promoting equality in the country.

To enhance the economic ties, the NA Chairwoman suggested the two sides make it clear contents of the economic partnership mechanism in order to roll out a cooperation plan with specific activities within 3-5 years.

Ngan expressed her hope that Australian enterprises will step up investment and cooperation with Vietnam in such areas as high-tech agriculture, husbandry, energy, telecommunication, finance-banking, mining and manufacturing.

She called on the Australian side to share its management experience and transfer technologies in coal mining, red mud treatment and environmental protection to Vietnam.

The Vietnamese top legislator urged the two countries to increase bilateral trade towards a balance and lift trade barriers, striving to raise the bilateral trade value to 10 billion USD in the time to come.

She suggested Australia think twice before deciding to conduct investigations into trade protection so as to avoid adverse impacts on the economic links, while calling on the country to provide technical assistance for Vietnam to help the country meet new import requirements set by Australia, making it easier for Vietnamese agricultural products and seafood to access the Australian market.    

Ngan also appealed to Australia to continue its ODA to Vietnam, focusing on infrastructure, agriculture and rural development, poverty reduction, climate change response and high-quality human resource development.

Noting with joy effective collaboration in national defence-security and the fight against crimes and illegal migration, the NA Chairwoman proposed the two sides continue consultation and support each other at regional forums, especially at the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

She thanked Australia for sharing its experience in anti-terrorism and peace-keeping operations, as well as cooperation in searching for Vietnamese soldiers missing in action.

Ngan called for Australia’s further support in implementing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on dealing with post-war bomb and mine consequences. 

She urged Vietnam and Australia to continue their affiliation in combating cross-border crimes, terrorists and human traffickers, as well as illegal border crossings, along with implementing the MoU on the return of Vietnamese with no legal right to stay in Australia signed in 2016 in a cooperative spirit and with goodwill.

Vietnam wishes to join hands with Australia in science, technology and innovation in order to adapt to new trends in the world, address urgent issues and cope with climate change, she said.

The NA Chairman suggested Australia provide more scholarships for Vietnamese students and expand its educational collaboration with the country under different reforms, and hailed the implementation of the vacation-labour programme on March 1, 2017.

Regarding bilateral legislative ties, Ngan urged the two countries’ legislative bodies to intensify delegation exchange at different levels, coordinate in supervising the implementation of cooperation agreements signed by the two Governments, exchange information about parliamentary activities in respective countries, and enhance role and activities of friendship parliamentarians’ groups.

Ngan’s proposals were accepted by the Australian leaders, who said her visit is of significance, contributing to strengthening the enhanced comprehensive partnership between the two countries, towards a strategic partnership in 2018.

They lauded achievements Vietnam has recorded over the past time, including those in improving people’s living standards and spurring economic growth.

Speaker Smith affirmed that Australia will continue its ODA for Vietnam, covering projects on infrastructure development, noting his hope that Vietnam will pay more attention to enhancing capacity and leadership of women.

President of the Senate Ryan described education as a spotlight of bilateral cooperation with an increasing number of Vietnamese students in Australia in recent years.

Australia will offer more scholarships to regional students, including those from Vietnam, within the framework of the New Colombo Plan, he said.

During the talks, the two sides also discussed regional and international issues of shared concern, including the East Sea issue.

They stressed the significance of maintaining peace, stability, security, aviation and navigation freedom and safety in the region, and handling disputes by peaceful measures, in line with international law.

Following the talks, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull directly called NA Chairwoman Ngan, informing that he cannot return home as scheduled to greet her due to unexpected issues during his working trip. -VNA