Overview of Australia's aid program to Vietnam

How we are helping

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$82.2 million

2018-19 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$58.4 million

2018-19 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$84.2 million

Australia and Vietnam's partnership extends across political, security, economic and people-to-people activities. Australians born in Vietnam represent the sixth largest migrant community in Australia, and around 28,000 Vietnamese students enrol in education institutions in Australia each year. Vietnam is one of our fastest growing trade partners, and is central to regional security in South East Asia. The country's further development as a strong trade and investment partner is vital to our national interest and the region's prosperity.

Vietnam experienced remarkably rapid economic growth in the past two decades. However, there are constraints to continued growth.  Businesses are constrained by the lack of a skilled workforce and private sector growth is constrained by poor infrastructure and an uncertain policy environment. Inequality, particularly for women and ethnic minorities, is a continuing challenge, with 9 million people living below the national poverty line. Gender disparities still exist and Vietnam is one of few countries in which the gender pay gap has widened over the last decade. Ethnic minorities have still not benefitted equally from economic growth – although they comprise just 15 per cent of the population, they account for around half of those living in poverty.

Vietnam's Socio Economic Development Strategy (SEDS) 2011-20 provides the country's overarching policy for responding to these challenges. It sets three high priorities – improving market institutions, promoting human resources, and infrastructure development – and highlights the need for a combination of structural reforms, macroeconomic stability, environmental sustainability, and social equity.

Australia's commitment to development cooperation with Vietnam is ongoing. Reflecting our maturing economic partnership, we will continue to leverage Vietnam's significant domestic resources and foreign investment, and support Vietnam's efforts to enter a new phase of economic development. By helping to stimulate the private sector, upskill the workforce, and support inclusive growth, we will contribute to achieving our shared, overarching goal of promoting prosperity and reducing poverty in Vietnam.

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $84.2 million in total ODA to Vietnam in 2018-19. This will include an estimated $58.4 million in bilateral funding to Vietnam managed by DFAT.

Our program is organised around the following three mutually reinforcing objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan 2015-20.

Objective 1: Enabling and engaging the private sector for development

Improving market institutions and infrastructure is essential to Vietnam's ongoing development. Australia is helping Vietnam's Ministry of Transport prepare high-quality projects that address transport infrastructure gaps, prioritising a small number of infrastructure investments that promote the benefits of new engineering or contracting approaches for improved efficiency. We are also providing support to increase women's engagement in a largely male-dominated sector.

We are supporting economic reform by drawing on international experience in areas such as competition policy to help level the playing field for the private sector. We will help identify innovative approaches that improve firms' access to finance by reducing the cost of credit and build their capacity.

Investments for enabling and engaging the private sector for development

Objective 2: Assisting the development and employment of a highly-skilled workforce

A skilled workforce that is harnessed by successful business will assist Vietnam to move into a new phase of growth and invest in innovation, ensuring that domestic industries can remain competitive. Australia will support Vietnam in its efforts to develop a skilled workforce by engaging with the private sector to ensure training meets industry's needs.

Our Australia Awards Scholarships continue to promote Vietnam's human development, with an increased focus on targeting skills development and workplace productivity in priority sectors. We will promote participation among women, people with disability and members of ethnic minorities.

Investments for assisting the development and employment of a highly-skilled workforce

Objective 3: Promoting women’s economic empowerment, including ethnic minorities

Empowering women to participate actively in the economy is critical to reducing poverty and building a sustainable economy. Our assistance is supporting women's economic empowerment by: promoting opportunities for women in the formal sector, and the expansion of women-led small to medium enterprises, contributing to more inclusive economic growth; and helping to close the gender gap in economic livelihoods in some of Vietnam's poor and remote communities.

Investments for promoting women’s economic empowerment, including ethnic minorities

Our results

  • In 2015-16, 268 emerging leaders from Vietnam completed postgraduate education in Australia with our support, and our new five year Human Resource Development Partnership began in January 2016.
  • In 2015, 183 Australia Awards Scholarships were provided to Vietnamese citizens (over 60 per cent were women).
  • The Cao Lanh Bridge connectivity project—Australia's largest single aid activity in mainland Southeast Asia—remains on schedule for completion by 2017, and will create significant economic efficiencies in the Long Xuyen City region through improved transport efficiency.
  • Two other major transport projects were completed in 2015-16. These have built a total of 231 kms of rural roads, 102 small bridges and reconstructed 70 kms of national highway, benefiting an estimated 316,000 people in the Mekong Delta.
  • The completion of our water and sanitation program in 2015-16 saw a further 56,000 households obtain a water connection for the first time and 111,000 households gaining access to a toilet.

Last Updated: 8 May 2018
A teacher speaking to students
Hospitality students at KOTO (Know One Teach One) in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam. KOTO is a not-for-profit restaurant and vocational training programme which is changing the lives of street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam (credit: DFAT).