Joint Communique, 25 June 2010
The Australian Minister for Trade, the Hon Simon Crean MP, and the Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment, His Excellency Mr Vo Hong Phuc, co-chaired the ninth meeting of the Australia-Vietnam Joint Trade and Economic Cooperation Committee (JTECC) on 25 June in Melbourne. Mr Crean warmly welcomed the participation of the Vice Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr Le Duong Quang, in the meeting, and also the participation of the Vietnamese and Australian business delegations in dialogue on the trade and investment relationship. The JTECC was established in 1990 to review progress in the economic relationship between the two countries and to identify ways to enhance cooperation.
The ninth JTECC meeting covered a broad range of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest. Ministers welcomed the establishment of the Australia-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership in September 2009 which elevated the bilateral relationship. Ministers reviewed progress on key issues discussed at the eighth JTECC held in Hanoi in July 2009.
Ministers noted the encouraging 5-year trend growth in two-way goods and services trade, notwithstanding the decline in merchandise trade in 2009. Ministers noted the resilience of economies in the region in the face of the global economic crisis and welcomed the region’s ongoing commitment to trade and economic reform. Mr Crean welcomed real GDP growth in Vietnam of over 5 per cent in 2009 and the Vietnamese Government’s projection of 6.5 per cent growth in 2010.
Mr Crean underlined the importance of continued market-based reform in Vietnam and registered Australia’s interest in the issue of price controls. Ministers welcomed progress under Phase 2 of the Beyond WTO program and the support provided by Australia to implement reforms in Vietnam in its transition to a market economy.
Bilateral discussions focused on key areas of potential growth in the bilateral commercial relationship, including education and training, infrastructure, and resources and environment. Ministers also welcomed the upcoming Australia-Vietnam Agriculture Cooperation Program which is aimed at strengthening Vietnam’s Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) capacity. The meeting involved Australian and Vietnamese business representatives from these sectors.
Ministers noted that education and training represented Australia’s largest services export to Vietnam. Ministers underlined the significance of the Joint Working Group on Education and Training recently agreed by Australia and Vietnam. Ministers recalled that vocational education and training had been a focus of bilateral discussions at the JTECC in 2009. Mr Crean set out Australia’s enhanced engagement in Vietnam’s vocational education and training sector through a whole of government strategy, policy workshops and the scheduling of a policy mission to Vietnam to be led by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Mr Phuc welcomed the increase in Australian Government scholarships for Vietnam from 2010-11.
Ministers agreed that there was significant scope to deepen bilateral resources, energy and environmental cooperation. In this context, they welcomed the visit to Australia of a Vietnamese coal delegation led by Vice Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr Do Huu Hao, from 15-19 March, which built on discussions at the JTECC in 2009. During the visit, Australia and Vietnam signed an MOU on Energy Cooperation. Mr Crean welcomed further visits from Vietnam with a focus on coal, LNG and/or training opportunities. Mr Phuc noted Australia’s potential to be a leading and long-term resource provider to Vietnam.
Mr Phuc reiterated the priority that Vietnam places on upgrading its infrastructure to achieve sustained economic growth and welcomed the contribution that Australian companies had made to that objective. Mr Phuc briefed Mr Crean on developments in relation to Public Private Partnerships in Vietnam. Mr Crean reiterated Australia’s commitment to the design phase of the Cao Lanh Bridge, part of the Central Mekong Delta Connectivity Project, subject to feasibility being established. The project would make an important contribution to facilitating trade and economic cooperation and growth in the region.
On multilateral and regional issues, Mr Crean welcomed Vietnam’s chairing of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit in 2010, and underlined Australia’s desire to work closely with Vietnam to enhance regional integration.
Ministers affirmed their strong commitment to an early, balanced and ambitious conclusion to the Doha Development Round. They recognised the need for all WTO Members to show the necessary flexibility to reach a successful conclusion. They affirmed that the early conclusion of the Round would provide benefits to all WTO Members, especially to developing members. Ministers noted that progress in the Round would be discussed at the G20 in Toronto on 26-27 June. Mr Phuc welcomed the support Australia had provided for Vietnam’s participation in the G20 in 2010 as Chair of ASEAN.
The Ministers agreed that Vietnam and the Cairns Group would continue their cooperation in the Doha Development Agenda negotiations, and Mr Crean welcomed Vietnam’s participation as an observer in Cairns Group Ministerial Meetings. The Ministers recognised that as agricultural exporters Australia and Vietnam shared an interest in the liberalisation of agricultural trade.
Ministers reaffirmed the strong cooperation between Australia and Vietnam in APEC and their commitment to the outcomes of the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade in Japan on 5-6 June, including in relation to the progress that had been made toward the Bogor Goals.
Ministers welcomed the entry into force on 1 January 2010 of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) Agreement and noted its significant potential to contribute to regional economic integration and prosperity. Ministers encouraged all parties to ratify the Agreement expeditiously. Ministers agreed to continue efforts to maximise the benefits of the Agreement, including through the Agreement's Economic Cooperation Work Program and close cooperation on other promotional activities. In this context, Ministers welcomed the AANZFTA promotion seminar conducted by the Australian Consulate General and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with participation by the Vietnam Department of Industry and Trade, in April this year in Ho Chi Minh City, and agreed to continue promotional activities.
Ministers noted the progress made in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to date. Mr Crean reaffirmed Australia’s readiness to work with other TPP Parties to provide appropriate capacity building to Vietnam to increase its ability to participate effectively in the negotiations, with a view to Vietnam becoming a full member of the negotiations.
Ministers agreed to hold JTECC on an annual basis, with the next meeting to be hosted by Vietnam in 2011.
THE HON SIMON CREAN MP, Australian Minister for Trade
MR VO HONG PHUC, Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Development
25 June 2010