PM Pham Minh Chinh is one of three special guests of Australia: Australian Ambassador to Vietnam

WVR - 'Vietnam has been chosen because Australia appreciates the importance of Vietnam and the importance of the bilateral relationship', Ambassador of Australia to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski emphasized when sharing about the Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s trip to attend the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia dialogue relations, pay official visits to Australia.
Australian Ambassador to Vietnam
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh left Hanoi to attend the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit and pay official visit Australia and New Zealand. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

Could you please share with us the significance of Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s upcoming official visit to Australia? And what are your expectations from this visit?

Well, it's an incredibly important visit. It comes after last year's 50th anniversary celebrations with Australia, during which all the important Australian leaders came to Vietnam. This year, this week, we will be hosting all the ASEAN leaders. And of those leaders, three have been invited to undertake a bilateral visit. And Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh is one of those three. And Vietnam has been chosen because Australia appreciates the importance of Vietnam and the importance of the bilateral relationship, which we expect will grow and be enhanced as a consequence of his excellencies' visit to Australia.

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam
Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski. (Photo: QT)

What are the opportunities for both nations to endorse the bilateral ties after this special visit? And which are the priority areas of our cooperation?

Well, our relationship is a big relationship, so we cover all fields. But I would say there's five areas in particular that will be the focus of this visit. The first is enhancing our cooperation in political and strategic understanding. Because we have very similar ideas, Vietnam and Australia, about the need for regional resilience, respect for the rule of international law, and a free and open region.

The second one is economic and trade cooperation. And we have now a new economic policy towards Vietnam, which our Prime Minister will be announcing, which we hope will result in more Australian investment in Vietnam.

A third area is education. Australia already is an important partner for Vietnam. We think we can do more. And we know the Prime Minister is very interested in education. So he'll be attending an education roundtable in Canberra, where all the Australian universities will be there to meet with him.

A fourth area is energy transition and climate change. And when Prime Minister Albanese was here last year, he announced $105 million to cooperate with Vietnam to help stimulate this important transition. When our Foreign Minister was here, she also announced additional money, $95 million for climate adaptation in the Mekong region. So there will be more discussion on those points.

And the last one is knowledge, innovation and science. And we're doing a lot in that area. And I know the Prime Minister's particular focus is on digital transformation. So I'm hoping that some new ideas will emerge from the visit in that important area. So there's a lot happening next week.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh plans to have bilateral meetings with your leaders to discuss and promote the relations. Is threre a possibility of upgrading the relationship to comprehensive strategy partnership?

Well, I think there's a very good possibility. You probably remember that when His Excellency Vuong Dinh Hue visited Australia at the end of 2022, he and our Prime Minister, announced the intention to work towards the elevation. Last year Vietnam elevated relations with three important countries, Republic of Korea, Japan and the United States. I'm confident that the two Prime Ministers will take that next important step in relation to Australia and Vietnam.

What is the importance of this ASEAN-Australia Special Summit?

Well, the particular reason for the Summit is to celebrate 50 years of Australia's dialogue partnership with ASEAN. Australia was the very first country to enter into a dialogue partnership with ASEAN and four years ago Australia became ASEAN's first comprehensive strategic partner. So there's a lot to discuss. We want to strengthen our economic engagement with ASEAN. ASEAN is now our second most important trading partner, more even than Republic of Korea, Japan and the United States. So we want to build on that and we also want to build on our strategic and political cooperation in the region.

So what priorities will Australia promote in relation with ASEAN in general and in Vietnam?

Well, there will be a lot. There's some important economic announcements that will be coming out. There's some important side events happening in Melbourne around clean energy transition, around maritime cooperation, around leadership. We value ASEAN a great deal. We know that we live in a region and a world which is maybe less safe than it was in previous years. ASEAN has always been a force for stability and dialogue. So for us, we talk about ASEAN centrality. ASEAN is at the heart of our regional strategy. And we hope that this Summit will further strengthen ASEAN's role in maintaining stability, peace and dialogue in our part of the world.

How can Vietnam and Australia collaborate to promote their voices and roles in dealing with regional and global issues?

What my sense is that Vietnam is emerging as a leader in the region. That's something that we would encourage. Vietnam's history and your weight in the region naturally suits you to that role. And Vietnam has always been a country that has strongly advocated sovereignty, independence and the rule of law. These are interests that we share. So from our point of view, the more we can do with Vietnam towards those important goals, the better it is not just for Vietnam and Australia, but for the whole region. So that for me is maybe the most important element.

Australia aims to become a renewable energy superpower. So this is expected among the main topics of this Special Summit. what do you think of Vietnam's chances of cooperation with Australia in this sector?

I think they're very good. Vietnam knows that there is no future in fossil fuels. That's why the Prime Minister famously made the commitment of Vietnam to reach net zero by 2050. It's not just about trying to save the environment in which we all live. It's also about keeping open Vietnam's economic opportunities. Because if Vietnam doesn't transition to clean supply chains, then it'll be very hard to sell Vietnamese products internationally. There's a couple of important Australian companies that will be meeting with the Prime Minister in coming days to talk about specific investment opportunities. Because Vietnam has amazing prospects in solar, in offshore wind and in other renewable energy sources. So I think there's a great deal that Australia and Vietnam can do together.

How will rare earth and cooperation in the semiconductor and high-tech industry reach in a two-country being promoted during this special period?

Well, that's a great question. And I don't really know the answer to that. But I do know this. According to the US Geophysical Survey, Vietnam has the second biggest reserves of rare earths in the world. And Australia is the second biggest miner and processor of rare earths in the world. We can provide Vietnam, not just with the technology to do this safely and in a way which is good for the economy and the community. But we also have the supply chain connections into Japan and Korea, the countries that make batteries that make computer chips, etc. So all of that, I think, will be on the table for discussion. And again, there are some very serious companies in Australia that would like to put some very specific ideas to the Prime Minister. And the Prime Minister knows, I think, that that's the future. If Vietnam wants to be part of the future, then Vietnam needs to start working now. And I'm very confident that those decisions will be taken and those opportunities will be seized in the coming week.

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