Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment The Hon Steven Ciobo MP
Few countries around the world better exemplify the benefits
of trade and investment liberalisation than Vietnam. It is now
three decades since Vietnam launched the doi moi reforms to
facilitate the country's shift to a market economy. The results
have been stunning. Since 1990, Vietnam's average annual
economic growth per person has been 5.5 per cent, among the
highest in Asia.
Vietnam is now a middle income country with a population
of 90 million. It has invested heavily in education and skills,
reinforcing its favourable demographics, including a median age
of 30. With the help of partners such as Australia, it is investing
in transport infrastructure that will consolidate its favourable
geography, notably its proximity to the growth engines of
southern China and the world's busiest maritime trading routes.
Commentators judge Vietnam to be among the best placed
of the emerging economies to escape the so-called "middle
income trap" and follow a similar trajectory to the first Asian
tigers such as Singapore, Korea and Taiwan. By mid-century,
Vietnam is expected to be on the cusp of joining the world's top
Trade and investment liberalisation has been at the very centre
of Vietnam's growth story. Two-way trade is equivalent to 185
per cent of Vietnam's GDP. In a short period of time, clothing
manufacturing has grown into a $40 billion export industry, with
Vietnam now the second largest supplier of apparel to the United
States, Japan and Korea. Samsung makes nearly a third of its
smart phones in Vietnam. Foreign direct investment in Vietnam
rose to record highs in both 2015 and 2016.
Importantly, Vietnam has made a strategic choice to embark
on further trade liberalisation as a core element of its ambitious
domestic reform agenda. As they face hard choices in 2017
and beyond, other countries around the world might look for
inspiration in Vietnam's success story.
Australia is well placed to benefit from Vietnam's continuing rise.
Vietnam is now our 15th largest trading partner, with two-way
trade exceeding $10 billion and Australian investment in Vietnam
growing strongly. We see tremendous potential for Australian
business to gain market share in sectors such as agriculture,
energy, financial services, education, tourism and health.
Australia is pursuing a strong innovation and education agenda
with Vietnam, which is showcased in this edition of business
envoy. The Australian-Vietnamese community – representing the
sixth highest foreign-born population in Australia – brings energy
and know-how to the business relationship.
As Vietnam prepares to host Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
leaders in the flourishing coastal city of Danang in November,
Australia is working closely with Vietnam to drive economic
connectivity and reduce trade barriers among APEC's 21 Pacific
Rim member economies.
Vietnam is one of the largest users of ASEAN-Australia-New
Zealand Free Trade Area tariff preferences for Australia, and
the two countries are involved in negotiations for a Regional
Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a trade agreement
that would cover over 30 per cent of global GDP. Australia and
Vietnam are also signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
While the United States has withdrawn from the TPP, Australia,
Vietnam and other TPP members are working to ensure the
benefits of the agreement are not lost.
The time has come for Australia to take our relationship with one
of Asia's most dynamic countries to a new level. Prime Minister
Turnbull and I are looking forward to visiting Vietnam during
its APEC host year in 2017 and building a closer economic
partnership between our two countries. I would strongly
encourage Australian businesses to explore how they too can be
part of Vietnam's remarkable growth story.