Joint Communiqué, 13 December 2011
The Australian Minister for Trade, the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP, and the Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment, His Excellency Mr Bui Quang Vinh, co-chaired the tenth meeting of the Australia-Vietnam Joint Trade and Economic Cooperation Committee (JTECC) on 13 December 2011 in Hanoi. The JTECC was established in 1990 to review progress in the economic relationship between the two countries and to identify ways to enhance cooperation.
2. The two sides agreed that bilateral relations continue to be strengthened and broadened under the framework of the Australia-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, signed in September 2009. Ministers welcomed the signing of the Australia-Vietnam Plan of Action, during the visit by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to Vietnam in October 2010, which provides a detailed work program for cooperation under the Comprehensive Partnership. Dr Emerson welcomed Vietnam's increasingly active role on the international stage, including as a member of ASEAN, APEC and the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
3. Ministers were encouraged by the ten year growth in two-way goods and services trade with an average of 10 per cent annual growth over the last decade. 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. Dr Emerson welcomed real year-on-year GDP growth in Vietnam of 6 per cent in 2010 and the Vietnamese Government's projections of 6 to 6.5 per cent growth in 2012.
4. Ministers had broad-ranging discussions about the future of the bilateral economic relationship and agreed that while progress had been made, there remained very substantial potential for sustained expansion of the relationship. Both governments made clear their commitment to creating the environment to encourage business to take advantage of strong complementarities between the two economies. In this context, Ministers welcomed progress under Phase 2 of the Beyond WTO program and the support provided by Australia to implement reforms in Vietnam in managing economic integration and its transition to a market economy. Dr Emerson registered Australia's strong interest in resolving potential issues with the implementation of recent measures such as Vietnam's Notice 197, relating to the import of luxury goods; Decree 46, relating to work permits for foreign employees; and Decision 20, relating to Pay TV operation and management. Minister Vinh noted Australia's interests and expressed Vietnam's willingness to work closely with Australia to resolve issues arising from the implementation of policies designed to stabilise Vietnam's macro-economy.
5. Minister Vinh set out Vietnam's economic restructuring plans and priorities and noted the relevance of Australia's experience in economic reform since the 1980s to the challenges Vietnam faces. Dr Emerson welcomed Vietnam's renewed commitment to macro-economic stability, economic integration and market based reforms as set out by Mr Vinh and underlined the importance of these efforts to the continued development of the bilateral economic relationship. In this context Dr Emerson expressed Australia's interest in supporting Vietnam's capacity to undertake economic restructuring, through three specific initiatives:
- working with Vietnam to secure funding under the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Work Program including to implement the recommendations of Vietnam's 2009 OECD Investment Policy Review;
- encouraging Vietnam to make use of the structural reform capacity-building funding that Australia has made available to developing APEC economies as an outcome of the November 2011 APEC meeting;
- encouraging Vietnam to engage in the Australia/World Bank program focused on assisting Vietnamese agencies to build institutional capacity to strengthen their ability to assess the financial sector (FSAP), prepare and undertake reforms and bring the system closer to international best practice and standards.
5. Ministers welcomed the increasing interest by both Australian and Vietnamese business in building commercial relationships, in particular the development of such relationships in the education, infrastructure and energy and resources sectors. Ministers also welcomed activities undertaken as components of the Australia-Vietnam Agriculture Cooperation Program, which was designed to strengthen Vietnam's sanitary and phytosanitary capacity.
6. Ministers noted that education and training represented Australia's largest services export to Vietnam. Ministers underlined the importance of the Joint Working Group on Education and Training recently agreed by Australia and Vietnam. Dr Emerson set out Australia's enhanced engagement in Vietnam's vocational education and training sector through a whole-of-government strategy, policy workshops and a policy mission to Vietnam. Mr Vinh welcomed the Australian Government's continued commitment to scholarships for Vietnam.
7. Ministers agreed that significant opportunities would arise as Vietnam's economy continued to grow and its demand for resources and energy increased. Ministers also noted that Vietnam provides a ready market for Australian expertise in resources and energy technology and services. Dr Emerson welcomed future two-way visits by resource and energy sector delegates.
8. Mr Vinh welcomed Australia's $160 million contribution to the design, supervision and construction of the Cao Lanh Bridge, part of the Central Mekong Delta Connectivity Project and Australia's biggest single aid project in the Mekong region. The project will make an important contribution to facilitating trade and economic cooperation and growth in the region.
9. Ministers emphasised the importance of deepening cooperation in these sectors. To this end, Dr Emerson requested support from Vietnam to assist Box Hill Institute of TAFE and Know One Teach One (KOTO) to undertake a feasibility study on a new technical school in Hanoi. He proposed that Vietnam send an infrastructure delegation to Australia, to coincide with the 11th meeting of JTECC in 2012, to showcase PPP opportunities and engage the private sector. In relation to cooperation on environmental matters, Dr Emerson proposed that a trade Mission from Australia visit Vietnam in 2012, focusing on green building, energy efficiency and water management systems, organised by Austrade. He also said that Australia would welcome a visit by the Minister for Industry and Trade, Dr Hoang, next year including to look at ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in resources and energy.
10. On multilateral and regional issues, Dr Emerson expressed Australia's desire to continue to work closely with Vietnam in the East Asia Summit to sustain momentum in regional economic integration, particularly through the ASEAN Plus Working Groups on Trade in Goods, Trade in Services and Investment which would be set up in 2012.
11. Ministers expressed their deep concern regarding the impasse confronting the Doha Development Round and agreed that fresh thinking was needed, involving innovative approaches, including the possibility of advancing specific parts of the Doha agenda, where consensus might be reached on a provisional or definitive basis. Ministers agreed to use the Eighth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC8) in Geneva (15-17 December 2011) to assess and promote further activity on the Doha Round, including on a new pathway forward. Ministers recognized the urgent need for the Doha Development Round to deliver outcomes for the world's poorest countries and urged that an early package of measures be developed for least developed countries (LDCs). Ministers recommitted to the pledge by APEC Leaders in Honolulu (13 November 2011) against protectionism through a standstill extended to the end of 2015, and agreed to work together at MC8 to build on this commitment through an anti-protectionism pledge at MC8. These commitments complement and support agreement by G20 Leaders (Cannes, 3-4 November 2011) to reaffirm their standstill commitments until the end of 2013, to roll back any new protectionist measure that may have risen and to direct their Trade Ministers to work on fresh approaches to the Doha negotiations at MC8.
12. The Ministers agreed that Vietnam and the Cairns Group would continue their cooperation in the Doha Development Round negotiations, and Dr Emerson 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.
13. Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the outcomes of the APEC Ministers' and Leaders' Meetings in Honolulu in November, including implementation of our structural reform priorities, and welcomed the continuing strong cooperation between Australia and Vietnam in APEC
14. The two Ministers welcomed the completion in 2011 by Indonesia of all formal procedures for entry into force of the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), marking the full operation of this landmark Agreement. Ministers agreed that AANZFTA offered great potential to contribute to regional economic integration and prosperity. Ministers agreed to continue to advance implementation and utilisation of AANZFTA, including its built-in agenda and Economic Cooperation Work Program and close cooperation in raising industry awareness of AANZFTA opportunities. 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 2011 in Ho Chi Minh City. Ministers agreed that AANZFTA is a benchmark for further ASEAN-centred regional economic integration. Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to encouraging business in both countries to take full advantage of the opportunities created by AANZFTA.
15. Ministers noted that Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Leaders had met in Honolulu on 12 November to review progress in the negotiations and consider next steps in the development of a 21st Century free trade agreement, which could forge a pathway to free trade across the Asia-Pacific. Ministers welcomed the fact that there was now agreement on the broad outlines of the TPP and reaffirmed their commitment to a comprehensive, ambitious FTA which eliminates tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment. Ministers underscored the TPP Leaders' instruction that officials move forward to conclude the TPP agreement as rapidly as possible.
16. Ministers agreed to hold JTECC on an annual basis, with the next meeting to be hosted by Australia in 2012.
THE HON DR CRAIG EMERSON MP, Australian Minister for Trade
HIS EXCELLENCY BUI QUANG VINH, Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment