Harnessing opportunities in key sectors


Efficient service sectors supported by effective domestic regulation are major drivers of economic growth

Encouraging more trade in services through open markets and non-discriminatory treatment can lead to higher employment rates, increased incomes and better standards of living.

Services already make significant contributions to the GDP of both Australia (around 70%54) and Vietnam (more than 51%55). Vietnam has big ambitions to increase the contribution of its services sector to two-thirds of GDP by 2030, as part of its Industry 4.0 agenda.

The services sector is of particular significance in terms of women’s employment. Between 1995 and 2016, women’s labour force participation rate in the services sector globally increased from 41.1% to 61.5%56. In Vietnam, the services sector is the largest sector of employment of women (at 36.8% in 2019)57. In Australia, women also dominate the services sector workforce ⎯ in 2019–20, the industries with the highest proportion of women were health care and social assistance (77.9%); education and training (71.6%); retail trade (55.2%); accommodation and food services (54.5%); and administrative and support services (52.9%)58.

Services exports have been significantly and negatively affected by COVID-19. At the same time, COVID-19 intensified the uptake and application of digital technologies, online commercial transactions and logistics services.


The majority of Australia’s A$1.8 billion services exports to Vietnam in 2019 were education-related travel services or recreational travel services. A number of Australian firms are engaged in accounting, business and marketing, economics, design, financial, legal, medical, training, banking and insurance services in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s trade in services remains modest relative to growth in trade in goods. Australia’s services imports from Vietnam in 2019 were concentrated in recreational travel (A$1.2 billion) and transport services (A$206 million)60.


Well-known Australian services firms have invested in Vietnam since the Doi Moi reforms in 1986. These include Telstra, ANZ, Allens-Linklaters and QBEinsurance.

Australian firms Linfox, Toll, and TMI Insights are building their investments in Vietnam’s logistics sector. Australian real estate group LOGOS is investing US$350 million to acquire modern, high-quality logistics facilities in Vietnam, aiming to serve a dynamic fast expanding market.

Vietnam’s largest software company FPT Software has been present in Australia since 2008. Vietcombank, Vietnam’s largest bank, continues to advance plans to establish an Australian branch in Sydney.

Australian firms such as Linfox are building their investments in Vietnam’s logistics sector. Photo by Bernd Dittrich on Unsplash

Further opportunities

There is great potential for growth in services trade between Australia and Vietnam, particularly in professional, financial, health, and specialist mining services, as well as in emerging sectors such as in digital services and e-commerce. The privatisation of sectors in Vietnam is opening doors to Australian businesses and new technology.

Demand for professional advisory and corporate governance services in Vietnam, for both state owned enterprises and the emerging private corporate sector, will continue to grow, providing opportunities for Australian professional services companies.

Australian pilot training services had been a growing market prior to COVID-19. Despite the pandemic, RMIT University is still moving ahead with plans to establish a formal pilot training program in Vietnam.

Vietnam aims to boost exports of health services (including ‘medical tourism’) and education services (including through cooperation with Australian universities ⎯ such as RMIT University and Swinburne).

There are opportunities for Australian businesses to tap into the growing Vietnamese services expertise, including in ICT services, to increase competitiveness.

Further, logistics is identified as an important service industry in the overall structure of Vietnam’s economy. In the World Bank’s 2018 Logistics Performance Index (LPI), Vietnam was ranked 39 out of 160 countries, up 25 places when compared to 2016, ranked third among ASEAN countries and the highest among emerging markets61. The Government of Vietnam has also set ambitious targets for the sector ⎯ for logistics services to represent 5-6% of GDP by 2025, with an annual growth rate of between 15 and 20%, and Vietnam to reach a LPI ranking of 50 or above62. There are many opportunities for Vietnamese and Australian businesses to strengthen cooperation in investment, technology transfer and experience sharing in this sector.


Service sectors supported by effective domestic regulation are major drivers of economic growth and already contribute significantly to both countries’ economies.

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