I was delighted to hold the first Annual Leaders’ talks today with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc under our Strategic Partnership. We strengthened our close strategic, economic and people-to-people ties, even as travel restrictions prevented us from meeting face-to-face, and discussed our shared vision for a prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
Australia and Vietnam enjoy a Strategic Partnership based on mutual trust, understanding and respect. We have both successfully managed the COVID-19 pandemic, and now look to address the challenges ahead as the region rebuilds and recovers. To this end, and as part of Australia’s regional vaccine initiative, we will support Vietnam’s access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
Prime Minister Phuc and I agreed that Australia and Vietnam would continue to support a region that is open, inclusive and transparent, including through ASEAN and the East Asia Summit, which Vietnam hosted in 2020, as well as through Australia’s new Mekong-Australia Partnership.
We also agreed to increase efforts to become top ten trading partners and to double bilateral investment. Given the importance of our trade, investment, tourism, education and community links, we looked forward to the resumption of two-way air travel, once it is safe to do so.
We both welcomed the acceleration of progress on the Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy, including extensive consultation with business. The Strategy will be finalised in 2021 and forms a key part of Australia’s efforts to build diverse and resilient supply chains and trading links throughout our region.
Under the Strategy, we agreed to promote deeper business cooperation and noted Australia’s support for Vietnam to build deeper capital markets to attract foreign investment. We confirmed support for a joint pilot program, where Australian and Vietnamese universities would deliver online higher education courses in Vietnam. Our governments also provisionally agreed market access conditions for Australian peaches and nectarines to be exported to Vietnam. Vietnam has further agreed to receive agricultural product from an additional irradiation facility in Melbourne, which will lower costs for many of our farmers.
I look forward to our next meeting and to further strengthening our close relationship into the future.