Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s trip hoped for significant bilateral and multilateral outcomes

WVR - Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Spouse will attend the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia dialogue relations, and pay official visits to Australia and New Zealand from March 5-11, 2024. It is the first overseas trip by the Head of the Government of Vietnam in the Year of the Dragon.
PM Pham Minh Chinh’s trip hoped for significant bilateral and multilateral outcomes
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh to attend ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, pay official visits to Australia, New Zealand from March 5-11, 2024. (Photo: WVR/Tuan Anh)

The springtime departure carries hopes for a favorable, successful, abundant, and happy new year. It is certain that these hopes will take flight alongside Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and the high-level Vietnamese delegation as they will visit two friends of Vietnam in the Pacific - Australia and New Zealand. Particularly in Australia, there will be a gathering of the ASEAN family with its Australian partner.

At the bilateral dimension, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh's official visit to Australia and New Zealand in the early days of March will contribute to creating new momentum for the Vietnam-Australia and Vietnam-New Zealand relationship, setting the "compass" for Vietnam's relations with these two Pacific island nations amidst new turning points. At the multilateral level, the Special Summit Commemorating the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia dialogue relations (4-6/3) holds significance in laying the groundwork for continuing the "beautiful story" between ASEAN and its first dialogue partner after five decades.

Continuing the "beautiful story" of ASEAN-Australia partnership

Australia is one of ASEAN's oldest partners. The two sides established dialogue relations in 1974, upgraded the relationship to Strategic Partnership in 2014, and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2021.

As early as 1974, Australian Prime Minister Whitlam famously said: "ASEAN is surely the most important and appropriate regional organization in Southeast Asia." In recent high-level exchanges, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese affirmed Canberra's appreciation of the Australia-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and its steadfast support for ASEAN's central role. In the appointment letter of the new Australian Ambassador to ASEAN on January 20, Foreign Minister Penny Wong reiterated Australia's strong commitment to ASEAN's central role and ASEAN's vision for the Indo-Pacific.

From the ASEAN perspective, ASEAN member states highly value their relationship with Australia. ASEAN welcomes Australia's active participation and support for ASEAN's efforts to promote dialogue, cooperation, maintain stability, and foster prosperity in the region.

PM Pham Minh Chinh’s trip hoped for significant bilateral and multilateral outcomes
PM Pham Minh Chinh’s trip hoped for significant bilateral and multilateral outcomes: Australian PM, Anthony Albanese, participated in an ‘ASEAN Way’ handshake at the ASEAN-Australia Summit in Jakarta on September 7, 2023. (Photo:

The sincerity embedded in the mindset has become the solid foundation for ASEAN-Australia relations to flourish over the past decade. Ahead of the Special ASEAN-Australia Summit, the international press has devoted many analyses to this relationship with an optimistic spirit. Long-time ASEAN expert, Mr. Kavi Chongkittavorn, in an article in the Bangkok Post (Thailand), affirmed ASEAN's true importance to Australia. Master Ridvan Kilic at La Trobe University (Australia) in an article on the website of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) argued that there is great potential for mutually beneficial cooperation between ASEAN and Australia with Canberra's substantial initiatives in collaboration with the Association.

Economic cooperation is a key highlight in ASEAN-Australia relations, serving as an anchor for both sides to move forward despite ups and downs. Immediately after establishing dialogue partnership in 1974, the ASEAN-Australia Economic Cooperation Program (AAECP) was launched with Canberra committing 5 million AUD for ASEAN economic projects. In the following decades, Prime Minister Albanese's Southeast Asia Economic Strategy until 2040 (announced in September 2023) continues to inspire long-term commitments between the two sides.

Certainly, in this still "hot" momentum, the 50th-anniversary high-level summit of ASEAN-Australia relations will contribute to guiding the continued development and deepening of the relationship, realizing the aspirations of leaders in the journey ahead. As an active member, proactive in ASEAN, and simultaneously one of Australia's important partners in the region, Vietnam will continue to play a pivotal role in promoting ASEAN-Australia relations.

Realizing aspiration to elevate Vietnam-Australia relations

After a successful official visit to Vietnam in June 2023 on the occasion of commemorating 50 years of diplomatic relations and 5 years of the Vietnam-Australia Strategic Partnership, and meeting again with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on the occasion of the 43rd ASEAN Summit three months later in Jakarta, Indonesia (September 2023), Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his desire to soon upgrade the relationship with Vietnam to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. With this meaningful visit to Canberra, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh will further discuss this aspiration in the meeting with his friend Anthony Albanese again, .

These is not mere transient aspiration but certainly the destination for a journey of mutual efforts to nurture the relationship from both countries. Over the past half-century, Australia has helped Vietnam break through embargoes, sanctions, and explored mutually beneficial cooperation areas. Recently, the two countries have effectively implemented the 2020-2023 Action Program and the Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy (EEES) until 2025, making trade cooperation a bright spot as they become each other's top 10 trading partners. In recent years, while many Western countries have reduced ODA, Australia has maintained it, with its financial support increasing by 18% in 2022-2023. The two countries are moving towards new areas of cooperation such as innovation, green economy, digital economy, digital transformation, clean energy transition, environmental cooperation, and climate change response.

PM Pham Minh Chinh’s trip hoped for significant bilateral and multilateral outcomes
PM Pham Minh Chinh’s trip hoped for significant bilateral and multilateral outcomes: Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during an official visit to Vietnam from June 3-4, 2023. (Photo: Nguyen Hong)

Ambassador Pham Hung Tam emphasized that the current Australian Government highly values the development of relations with the Southeast Asian region, including Vietnam, and appreciates the position and central role of ASEAN in general and Vietnam in particular. During talks with counterpart Pham Minh Chinh in Hanoi in June 2023, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese emphasized that Australia would prioritize Vietnam in its Southeast Asia Economic Strategy until 2040, which Australia is developing, and would continue to enhance cooperation in the Mekong sub-region.

With the determination and goodwill of both sides, it is entirely possible to think that this official visit to Australia by the Prime Minister of Vietnam will bring a "fresh breeze," continuing to deepen the increasingly comprehensive relationship between the two countries.

New phase, new vision for Vietnam-New Zealand relations

The first official visit to New Zealand by Vietnam's high-level leadership after four years since the two countries upgraded their relationship to a Strategic Partnership will contribute to further strengthening bilateral relations in the new phase. Over the years, the two countries have effectively implemented the action program for the Vietnam-New Zealand Strategic Partnership for the 2021-2024 period and aimed at negotiating and signing the next phase action program.

In various meetings, New Zealand leaders have repeatedly affirmed that Vietnam is an important partner for them in the region, both politically and economically. Meanwhile, Vietnam's high-level leadership has emphasized the importance of and the desire to promote the Strategic Partnership with New Zealand, affirming actively promoting substantive cooperation programs between ASEAN and New Zealand in the capacity of ASEAN-New Zealand relationship coordinator. The two countries share many common perspectives and visions on regional and global issues.

PM Pham Minh Chinh’s trip hoped for significant bilateral and multilateral outcomes
PM Pham Minh Chinh’s trip hoped for significant bilateral and multilateral outcomes: On the afternoon of January 24, 2024, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son had a phone call with New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters. (Photo: VNA)

Bilateral economic cooperation is a bright spot as two-way trade has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, reaching $1.59 billion USD per year. Vietnam is currently New Zealand's 14th largest trading partner. Both sides are actively discussing ways to enhance cooperation and business linkages in areas where both countries have competitive advantages. For New Zealand, this includes the food and beverage industry, while for Vietnam, it is the manufacturing and processing sector. Additionally, both countries have significant potential to expand into some new and emerging fields.

Vietnam is highly interested in New Zealand's experience in technology, digitization, and green energy. Technology is New Zealand's third-largest export sector. Digital economy and green economy are always emphasized by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh during his overseas trips, so this will be a focal point in the exchange with New Zealand leaders on this occasion. Both sides are making concerted efforts to achieve the common goal of $2 billion in two-way trade by 2024.

Therefore, the early-year official visit of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh to the two Pacific friends carries many bilateral and multilateral messages, demonstrating Vietnam's far-reaching spirit, determination to successfully implement the resolutions of the 13th Party National Congress, and solidarity with international friends in overcoming challenges and moving forward.

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