May 26, 2021 / 11:35

Australia funds US$31 million for Vietnam Covid-19 vaccination

The two leaders hope to upgrade the bilateral ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Australia has pledged to aid Vietnam’s Covid-19 inoculation through a grant of AUD40 million (US$31.1 million).

 Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (left) and Australian PM Scott Morrison held a phone talk on May 25. Photo: VGP

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the commitment at a phone talk with Vietnamese PM Pham Minh Chinh on May 26.

Chinh thanked Canberra for the assistance, proposing the Australian government facilitate the access of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine produced in Australia. 

Scott Morrison spoke highly of Vietnam’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic over the past time and its multisectoral economic development.

Scott Morrison expressed his hope to upgrade the bilateral ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

For his part, PM Chinh emphasized the two-way trade, proposing Australia open its market for more farm produce from Vietnam.

He encouraged Australian companies to invest in Vietnam and official development assistance (ODA) to infrastructure, agriculture, poverty reduction, climate adaptation, and manpower.

As the fresh coronavirus outbreak causes high infections, Vietnam seeks to diversify vaccine sources to get enough doses for its frontline forces and sufficient amount for 70% of its 100 million people to achieve herd community in 2022.

Vietnam and Australia became strategic partners in 2018, and since then cooperation has expanded across multiple domains.

According to the Lowy Institute, the prospects for deeper cooperation between Australia and Vietnam are bright.

In addition, the two countries have been involved in greater cooperation with ASEAN. A template for Vietnam-Australia cooperation to enhance intra-ASEAN linkages could be found in Australia’s Covid-19 development response plan for Southeast Asia. Australia has supported the delivery of the COVAX Facility-led Covid-19 vaccine to Vietnam. 

The high point of Australia's engagement with Vietnam seems to have been in March 2018 when then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull successfully hosted a special summit with leaders of ASEAN member states (including Vietnam) and there was even enthusiasm about Australia joining ASEAN as an official member.

Vietnam and Australia are both signatories of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), spanning the Asia-Pacific, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

This allows Vietnam and Australia to also support initiatives to bolster ASEAN’s role in setting rules for regional economic governance. In addition, Australia can contribute to developing standards for high-quality infrastructure investment, acting in concert with the US and Japan.