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Vietnam country brief

Bilateral relations

Australia and Vietnam are strong partners with a commitment to ASEAN centrality and a shared vision for a region that is peaceful, stable and prosperous and where sovereignty is respected. On 7 March 2024, Australia and Vietnam agreed to a Joint statement on the elevation to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Vietnam and Australia, placing Australia amongst Vietnam's top-tier partners. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership will support expanded cooperation on climate, environment and energy, and digital transformation and innovation, and build on established collaboration across defence and security, economic engagement, education and development assistance. In 2024, Australia and Vietnam also held the inaugural Trade Ministers' Dialogue, announced a new Energy and Minerals Ministerial-level Dialogue as well as a Peacekeeping Partnership Agreement.

Vietnamese and Australian ministers meet regularly with several high-level visits and dialogues providing a strong foundation for the relationship, which has matured into one of our most important in the region.

Trade and investment

Our bilateral trading relationship with Vietnam is one of Australia's fastest growing in recent years. Australia and Vietnam held their first Annual Trade Ministers' Dialogue, on 5 March 2024, providing a platform to enhance the trade and investment relationship between our countries. On 1 November 2021, Australia and Vietnam launched the Australia-Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy (the Strategy), which supports our joint ambition of becoming top ten trading partners and doubling two-way investment. The Strategy presents a holistic picture of the enormous potential that exists in our economic relationship and sets out a roadmap to reach that potential. Close consultation with industry, research institutions and government in both countries informed the development of the Strategy. It was the first economic strategy Australia has developed in partnership with another country.

Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in the region, driven by export-oriented manufacturing, foreign direct investment and increasingly strong domestic demand. Vietnam's economy hit a record high growth rate in 2022 of 8 per cent. Despite slowing global demand for manufactured exports, Vietnam's GDP growth remains high and is expected to exceed 5 per cent in 2024. Vietnam is committed to global economic integration and trade liberalisation through participation in APEC (which it hosted in 2017), ASEAN, the World Trade Organization and a growing network of free trade agreements, including the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP). Vietnam is a member of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries.

Australia's total two-way trade with Vietnam in financial year 2022/23 was valued at $25.7 billion, up from $14.7 billion in 2020. This was an increase of 75 per cent.

Vietnam's strong economic growth, a shift towards a more market-based economy, and expanding middle-class have increased demand for imported goods. This creates significant opportunities for Australian exporters of energy, dairy, meat, consumer goods, wheat and grains, cotton and wool, machinery, and professional services.

The same trends have increased Vietnam's demand for education and training services. The need for training in areas such as English language, business and management, and information technology remains high, especially in the major urban centres.

Australian education, agriculture and food exports all have a strong reputation in Vietnam. More broadly, Australia is regarded as a modern, technologically advanced, and friendly country located within Vietnam's immediate sphere of interest. Long-term trade and investment opportunities should increase in line with Vietnam's progress in implementing its trade commitments and administrative reform program.

On 5 March 2024, the government announced the establishment of an Investment Deal Team hub in Ho Chi Minh City to identify and facilitate outbound investment opportunities for Australian investors. The Deal Team involves experts from Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Export Finance Australia (EFA), and forms part of the Government's implementation of Invested: Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040.

For more information on specific export opportunities in Vietnam, or more information on export assistance, visit the Austrade website.

Strategy, defence and security

Australia and Vietnam established formal defence relations in February 1998, with the opening of a Defence Attaché Office at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi in 1999. Vietnam's first Defence Attaché to Australia commenced in September 2000.

Our Defence Cooperation Program ($4.15 million in 2023-24) focuses on:

  • strategic dialogue and information sharing
  • peacekeeping, including cooperation on Women Peace and Security and support for Vietnam's deployment to the UN Mission to South Sudan;
  • training and education, including English language training;
  • maritime security, including annual ship visits; and
  • Air Force and Army engagement.

Australia also cooperates closely with Vietnam in the ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus.

Our defence and security links continue to grow. In October 2010, Australia and Vietnam signed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation at the inaugural ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus in Hanoi. Defence Ministers also signed a Joint Vision Statement on Further Defence Cooperation in 2018, which bolstered our defence ties. The first meeting between Australian and Vietnamese Defence Ministers was held in Canberra on 19 March 2013. The inaugural annual High-Level Meeting of Defence Ministers took place in Hanoi in November 2022. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính announced the elevation of peacekeeping cooperation to a Peacekeeping Partnership Agreement on 7 March 2024.

Our Defence Cooperation Program alumni continues to grow, with 3,500 Vietnam People's Army officers graduating from Australian sponsored training in Australia and Vietnam.

Since 2012, an annual joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Australia-Vietnam Strategic Dialogue has been held at Deputy-Secretary/Vice-Minister level. Australia and Vietnam also conduct annual Australia-Vietnam Defence Cooperation Talks, a Defence Policy Dialogue, and a 1.5 Track Dialogue. In 2024, as part of the elevation to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Australia and Vietnam agreed to upgrade the annual Vice-Ministerial Security Dialogue to Ministerial-level.

Australia has a longstanding relationship with Vietnam on immigration, border security and law enforcement cooperation. Australia and Vietnam have enhanced coordination on operations across all transnational crime types, including child exploitation, money laundering and narcotics. We also cooperate to prevent and deter people smuggling and address the challenges of irregular migration and civil maritime security.

The Australian Federal Police has had a presence in Vietnam for over 20 years and maintains Law Enforcement Offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The AFP and Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) maintain the Joint Transnational Crime Centre (JTCC) in Ho Chi Minh City.

Australia, in partnership with the MPS and RMIT University, delivers the Asia Region Law Enforcement Management Program (Australian Federal Police) and the Border Control Agency Management Program (Australian Department of Home Affairs). These programs strengthen regional cooperation among relevant agencies.

Education, knowledge and innovation

Australia is a leading education destination for Vietnamese students, with more than 38,000 Vietnamese students studying in Australia in 2023. Vietnam is Australia's fifth largest market for international student enrolments.

Australia collaborates on many education and training initiatives with Vietnam, including in quality assurance, qualification recognition, research collaboration and vocational education; facilitating institution-to-institution partnerships; and supporting vibrant Australian alumni associations. We are also working with Vietnam to increase the number of Australian universities with a presence in Vietnam and have a Working Group to support of the establishment of branch campuses in country.

The Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Education and Training with the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) was first signed in 1994, renewed in October 2013 and refreshed and renewed in March 2024

The New Colombo Plan (NCP) provides scholarships of up to 19 months and flexible mobility grants to support Australian undergraduates to undertake study, language training and internships in the Indo-Pacific. Since 2014, 21 NCP scholarships and more than 5,000 NCP mobility grants have been awarded for Vietnam. This includes four scholars and 394 mobility grants in the 2024 round.

To further strengthen collaboration in knowledge and innovation, Australia and Vietnam have established the Vietnam-Australia Centre at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics in Hanoi. The Centre draws on Australian expertise to support Vietnam's future leadership, while enabling Vietnam and Australia to pursue solutions to shared national and regional challenges and deepen people-to-people and institutional links. It brings together influential Vietnamese and Australian leaders, government officials, experts and academics.

Through Aus4Innovation, Australia and Vietnam are together exploring emerging areas of technology and digital transformation, trialling new models for partnerships between public and private sector institutions, and strengthening Vietnamese capability in digital foresight, scenario planning, commercialisation, and innovation policy. Aus4Innovation is a collaboration between DFAT, CSIRO and Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology. It is funded through Australia's development program to Vietnam.

People connections

Australian and Vietnamese links continue to grow through tourism, business, education and volunteering. Vietnam is Australia's 11th most popular short-term destination. As of 2022, 281,000 Vietnamese-born people were living in Australia. In the 2021 Census, Vietnamese was the fourth most common language spoken at home in Australia (1.3 per cent of the total population).

Human rights cooperation

Australia regularly discusses human rights with Vietnam.

Australia and Vietnam have regularly held formal human rights talks since 2002. The 18th Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue took place in Hanoi on 24 April 2023.

Australia's delegation typically includes representatives from the Australian Human Rights Commission and senior officials from DFAT.

The Human Rights Dialogue facilitates frank discussion about key human rights issues, including:

  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of association and of information
  • freedom of religion
  • specific cases of concern
  • treatment of prisoners
  • Australia's opposition to the death penalty.

Australia has welcomed improvements in some areas and encouraged implementation of these gains, particularly in relation to legal reforms, gender equality, and rights for LGBTIQA+ persons (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual).

We support the promotion and protection of human rights in Vietnam in partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission. This includes supporting human rights education and promoting protection of human rights online.

The UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process provides another opportunity forum for constructive discussion of human rights situations in all UN member states, including Vietnam, and identifies practical steps to address specific human rights concerns.

Australia was an active participant during Vietnam's UPR sessions in January 2019, 2014 and 2009. Vietnam agreed with 183 of 211 recommendations made at its 2019 UPR. Australia welcomes this development and encourages implementation of the accepted recommendations by Vietnamese authorities as soon as practicable. Vietnam's next UPR review is scheduled to take place in Q2 2024.

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