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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  19 March  2015  

PM Dung calls for stronger ties with Australia in all areas

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung the day before yesterday called for increased momentum in trade and other relationships with Australia.

Speaking in Sydney, where he met the Governor General of Australia, Peter Cosgrove, the PM was on an official visit to the country.

The Vietnamese PM used the occasion to emphasise Viet Nam's consistent policy of intensifying the comprehensive partnership with Australia. He also welcomed Australia's policy of enhancing ties with Indo-Pacific countries, including Viet Nam.

The two leaders hailed the development of friendship and co-operation between the two countries across many fields, particularly since the establishment of a formal bilateral comprehensive partnership in 2009.

Cosgrove said he believed the visit by PM Dung, which came at the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, would help create new momentum in the two countries' developing partnership.

He added that the strong growth of bilateral ties, especially in economic-commercial fields, and the similarities in viewpoint regarding regional security-political issues demonstrated that the Viet Nam-Australia comprehensive partnership had deepened and grown increasingly stable, sustainable and mutually trusting.

Cosgrove said that as a veteran of the Viet Nam War who had made two...subsequent trips to Viet Nam, he was deeply impressed by the achievements and positive changes in the Southeast Asian country, as well as the hospitality of the Vietnamese people.

PM Dung conveyed an invitation to Cosgrove to visit Viet Nam from President Truong Tan Sang. Cosgrove accepted.

The same day, the Vietnamese PM took part in a meeting with the Governor of New South Wales, David Hurley.

The PM underlined New South Wales' advantage in expanding ties with Vietnamese localities, as there was now a direct air service between Sydney and HCM City.

He suggested state authorities facilitate business co-operation between the two countries and assist Vietnamese firms in seeking investment opportunities and selling commodities in the state, and across the rest of Australia.

Governor Hurley said the visit by PM Dung marked the start of a new period for co-operation between New South Wales and Viet Nam. He promised to facilitate connections between the business communities of the state and Viet Nam.

Dung also held a dialogue with hundreds of Vietnamese and Australian business representatives in Sydney, promising "all possible support".

He said the Government of Viet Nam would continue running the market economy in a way that ensured fair, open and transparent competition between domestic and foreign businesses.

The PM reiterated Viet Nam's commitment to integrate into the world economy by fully delivering on its World Trade Organisation commitments and other bilateral and multilateral free-trade agreements (FTAs).

With eight FTAs already in effect and others under discussion, a legal business framework in line with international practices was taking effect in Viet Nam, the leader said.

Dung updated business people on Viet Nam's focused efforts in three strategic areas to facilitate investment, including fine-tuning market regulations, ramping up infrastructure and training a high-quality workforce.

He said the country was also working hard to sustain socio-political stability, protect the legitimate rights and interests of investors at home and abroad, refine the laws and uphold citizens' rights to freedom and democracy politically and economically.

This was, he said, seen as a motivation for sustainable economic growth.

From humble beginnings as an underdeveloped country, Viet Nam had grown into a middle-income and vibrant economy with nearly 6 per cent growth in 2014, partly driven by US$300 billion in 18,000 projects from more than 100 countries and territories. More than 100 high-profile conglomerates were also present in Viet Nam.

The PM answered questions regarding the deepening of the Viet Nam-Australia comprehensive partnership, primarily in competitive-edge areas such as mining, energy, chemicals, agriculture, finance-banking, education, and high-quality services.

He made it clear that the Government backed Australian firms in Viet Nam's economic restructuring process, particularly those displaying strengths in energy, telecommunications infrastructure, education-training, sustainable agriculture and finance.

Regarding the trading of bad debts, he said Viet Nam encourages investors to join the market, especially purchasing debts in real estate or business projects. He said many such investors were successful.

He added that the goal was to bring the rate of non-performing loans in commercial banks to below 3 per cent from the current 5 per cent.

Dung said Vietnamese and Australian firms reached a number of deals in training workers, exporting containers, and supplying farm materials and farm produce.

During his visit, the Vietnamese PM met representatives from top Australian enterprises, including those from Telstra, Australia's largest phone service provider, Rio Tinto, one of the world's leading mining corporations, and Santos, a major company in oil and gas exploration and production.

He also received representatives from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ), and Origin Energy, Australia's leading integrated energy company.

He also had a meeting with the overseas Vietnamese community in Sydney.

The Prime Minister affirmed Viet Nam's supports for Australia's increased role in the evolving regional structure and expressed hope for further co-operation with Australia and other partner countries in developing a well-connected Asia.

Speaking at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, he said that Viet Nam had gone from being a war-torn nation to a middle-income developing country.

Viet Nam enjoyed diplomatic relations with 185 countries and membership in more than 70 international organisations. It was also a key business destination with investment from over 100 countries and territories, he said.

"Australia has been among the top 10 trade partners of Viet Nam in recent years. Trade is expected to exceed US$6.5 billion this year, more than double the figure in 2000," the PM said.

"Viet Nam currently houses 320 Australian FDI projects valued at over $1.65 billion," he added.

He said the 300,000 Vietnamese nationals and 30,000 students in Australia were a bridge to enhanced mutual understanding.

Referring to regional security issues, Dung said the Asia-Pacific region contributed around 55 per cent of the world's GDP and played a vital role in the formation of a future world order.

"However, imminent instabilities exist caused by complicated developments at several hotspots in the region, including the complex situation in the East Sea," he said.

"Current tensions and instabilities can only be resolved once all nations, especially sovereignty claimants in the East Sea, comply with international dictates including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, refrain from unilateral actions that complicate the situation, avoid threats and the use of force, fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, and expeditiously enact a code of conduct for the area," he said.

Viet Nam always sought to settle disputes through peaceful measures with respect to international law and regional standards of conduct and hoped Australia would actively contribute to regional peace and security, he said.

Nations in the region should promote the role of multilateral institutions and work together to build a stable and sustainable regional structure, he added.

The PM and his entourage left for the capital city of Canberra yesterday evening. He is scheduled to hold talks with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott today.

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