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25 July 2009

Australia to help strengthen Vietnam’s market economy

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Australia Friday pledged A$12 million ($9.8 million) to help Vietnam adjust after joining the WTO, Canberra's trade minister said Friday, adding that the countries sought closer economic ties, AFP reported.

After talks with Vietnam officials Simon Crean said the money was part of a multilateral programme focused on the "capacity-building needs" of Vietnam, which joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007.

WTO membership commits the communist nation to the global economic mainstream and international trading system. The aid is aimed at, among other things, helping to strengthen Vietnam's market economy and assist the rural sector to adjust to the changes, an Australian news release said.

"It's one thing to open markets. It's another to ensure that businesses are competitive enough to take advantage of that market opening," Crean said after talks with Vietnam's Minister for Planning and Investment, Vo Hong Phuc.

According to Australian government figures last year, Australia was Vietnam's 16th largest investor and two-way trade had grown by about 20 percent annually over five years to A$6.9 billion.

"We are very impressed with the way in which the trade and investment relationship has grown over recent years but we can do a lot more," Crean said, adding both sides are resolved to put in place the framework for closer ties.

Crean is accompanied on his trip by an Australian business delegation and was to continue his visit in the southern commercial capital of Ho Chi Minh City at the weekend. Vietnam is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) which signed in February a major free trade pact with Australia and New Zealand.


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