Vietnamese, Australian top legislators hold talks hinh anh 1Chairwoman of the National Assembly (NA) Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (R) shakes hands with President of the Australian Senate Scott Ryan (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Chairwoman of the National Assembly (NA) Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan held talks with President of the Australian Senate Scott Ryan after an official welcome ceremony in Hanoi on January 21.

At the meeting, Ngan expressed her hope that the high-ranking delegation of the Australian Senate’s current visit to Vietnam, led by Ryan, will contribute to consolidating and promoting the two countries’ strategic partnership.

The Australian Senate President highlighted that Vietnam-Australia relations are expanding across many sectors, particularly in education, trade, public administration, science-technology, and other strategic cooperation fields.

Agreeing with his host, Ryan highlighted the sound growth of bilateral parliamentary ties based on signed agreements. He added that both sides have sustained their exchange of all-level delegations and experience in parliamentary activities, increased mutual understanding and bilateral cooperation, as well as supported each other at multilateral parliamentary forums.

The Australian parliament has worked closely with Vietnam’s National Assembly in experience exchange and capacity building for deputies and particularly female legislators, he said.

Ngan expressed her delight at the effective cooperation between the two governments throughout the past, noting that the upgrade of relations to a strategic partnership – as part of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s official trip to Australia in March last year – has created favourable conditions for bilateral ties during the new development period. Within the framework of a strategic partnership, Vietnam and Australia have three more annual ministerial dialogues due in foreign affairs, defence, and economics.

Bilateral trade has grown by 7 percent on an annual basis. Australia has so far invested in 426 projects in Vietnam worth nearly 1.9 billion USD, ranking 19th out of the 128 countries and territories investing in the country.

The NA Chairwoman said she expects Australia to continue its support for Vietnam in developing basic infrastructure, agriculture, rural areas, and a high quality workforce; alleviating poverty; and adapting to climate change.

She highlighted that bilateral security-defence collaboration has been strengthened toward mutual trust and practical outcomes, particularly in terms of English language training, UN peacekeeping missions, and terrorism and trans-border crime prevention.

Agreeing with Ngan, the Australian senator said Vietnam has affirmed its role in the region and exemplified its responsibility to the international community via engagement in UN peacekeeping missions.

Regarding regional and international cooperation, the NA Chairwoman said she welcomed Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, which prioritised its relationships with Southeast Asia and with the ASEAN, including Vietnam, as well as the country’s trilateral joint statement with the US and Japan on investing in infrastructure development in the Asia-Pacific. 

She stated that Vietnam will actively contribute to boosting the ties between Australia and ASEAN, as well as with other regional countries, particularly at high-level meetings in the region.

Ngan also underscored close collaboration between the two nations at regional and international forums, especially the UN, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN, the ASEAN-Australia- New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). She took the occasion to thank the Australian Government for its support of Vietnam’s bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for the term 2020-2021.

In addition, bilateral tourism cooperation is on the rise, with 420,000 Australian tourists visiting Vietnam and over 250 Vietnamese registering to the Australian working holiday visa programme.

Ngan said she expects that, once the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) goes through, these figures will increase significantly. She asked Australia to continue facilitating Vietnamese citizens taking part in the programme.

The top legislator also asked her guest to continue assisting the Vietnamese community in Australia.

For his part, Ryan agreed with his host in saying that educational cooperation will lay the basis for increasing mutual understanding between the two countries, particularly among their youths.

Vietnam and Australia signed collaboration agreements on education and training, as well as on vocational training for the 2018-2023 period. There were nearly 30,000 Vietnamese students studying in Australia last year, making them the fifth biggest foreign student community in the country. Meanwhile, some 1,000 Australian students also studied in Vietnam under the New Colombo Plan.

The Australian official said the relationship shared between the two peoples is a firm foundation for the development of economic ties in specific areas. 

He affirmed that Australia wants to stand side-by-side with Vietnam along its development and to help the country sustainably maintain its economic growth via human resources training and policy development programmes.

After being informed by his host that the Vietnamese NA ratified the CPTPP in November 2018, Ryan said the pact is an important achievement for countries in the region, helping them reduce trade barriers. He said the CPTPP will support Vietnam and Australia’s boosting of trade and economic partnerships.

At the talks, Ngan proposed that the two parliaments increase delegation exchanges at all levels and via all channels, particularly between their specialised committees. 

The implementation of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two law-making bodies, an action plan for 2016-2019, and agreements and deals secured by the two countries in recent high-ranking visits are all necessary next steps, she added.

The top legislator also recommended the sides facilitate people-to-people exchange, promote the role of friendship associations and friendship parliamentarians’ groups in both nations, and increase the exchange of such groups.

Lauding Vietnam’s hosting of the 26th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF-26) in 2018, Ryan asked Vietnam to share its organisation experience so that Australia can hold the APPF-28 in 2020 as successfully as expected. –VNA