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Jun 27, 2022 / 19:22

Penny Wong arrives in Hanoi, affirming new Australian cabinet relations with Vietnam

The Australian top diplomat said the ties between the countries run deep.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong today [June 27] met with Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son in Hanoi as part of her three-day visit to affirm the new Australian government’s commitments to continue the Strategic Partnership with Vietnam.

 Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (R) and Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Hanoi on June 27. Photos: Baoquocte 

In the visit which was made one month after she was sworn in as Australian Foreign Minister, Wong affirmed the role of Vietnam in the regional architecture and the two countries in the regional peace and security.

In Vietnam, Wong will meet with President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, and Chairman of the CPV Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations Le Hoai Trung.

Her trip comes ahead of next year’s 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Australia.

Before the visit, she said her discussions with Vietnamese officials will focus on climate change cooperation, shared trade and investment ambitions, and Australia’s continued support for Vietnam’s Covid-19 recovery.

In today’s talks, Bui Thanh Son thanked Australia for its donation of 22 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, the largest volume for Australia's partnering country.   

The top diplomats said that Vietnam and Australia should boost cooperation in tourism, education, and workforce – the fields should be focused on after both countries fully open their borders. In addition, they agreed to promote traditional fields of trade, investment, security and defense, activities for the 50th anniversary, as well as address non-traditional security threats.

Concerning Vietnam-Australia relations, Wong said: “The ties between our countries run deep.” As so many Australians have family and friends in this region, in Vietnam particularly, she said “we want to make sure we work to deepen this relationship,”.

“It’s also important for me to come here, to do the work, to listen because our futures are tied together,” she noted.

Opening the new Vietnam Australia Center in Hanoi on June 27, which will draw on Australian expertise to develop future leaders in the communist nation, she said the starting point of the Albanese government was “always to listen.”

Vietnam is further establishing itself as a global manufacturing hub and trade with Australia is on the up. Over the first five months of this year, trade between the countries hit a record $9 billion, up 32% from the same period in 2021, Vietnamese consul general Nguyen Dang Thang told a meeting of the Australia-Vietnam Business Council in Sydney last Thursday. He said two-way investment exceeded $3.5 billion, with 75% being Australian money in Vietnam.

Penny Wong visits Vietnam one month after she took office. 

Vietnam-Australia relations in regional context

Vietnam is the first stop of  Penny Wong’s week-long trip to Southeast Asia that will take her to Malaysia, her country of birth.

Addressing an audience at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics on June 27, she said it was the new Australian government’s ambition to expand strategic, defense and security cooperation with Vietnam, as well to further economic engagement and innovation links.

“Our two countries share an interest in a region that is peaceful, prosperous, that is stable, in which sovereignty is respected,” Wong said. “A region where disputes are settled peacefully in accordance with international law and norms, not by size and power,” the Sydney Morning Herald cited her.

On this occasion, Penny Wong and Bui Thanh Son discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern. Son welcomed the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership established in 2021 and expected Australia’s further contributions to the ASEAN Centrality.

For her part, Wong affirmed that Australia attached the importance of the ASEAN Centrality in the regional cooperation and the sustainable development of the Mekong Sub-region.

Regarding the South China Sea issues, Wong affirmed the importance of maintaining peace, security, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the region stipulated in international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

Sharing before the visit, Wong said Australia’s future is tied to the future of Southeast Asia. “It’s more than geography that binds us – we have genuine links in Vietnam and Malaysia: family, business, education, and tourism,” she said, adding that “My visit seeks to deepen these ties, building on our existing partnerships for the benefit of our countries and the region.”

  The two top diplomats hold talks on the same day.