Australia and Vietnam Move Closer to Achieving Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Goal (Aug. 23)

Vietnam is strengthening ties with numerous countries, as indicated by the developments from the past week. State President Tran Dai Quang expects closer cooperation between Vietnam and Belgium. Vietnam and Laos have agreed to bolster court cooperation. The two countries also worked towards a goal of establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership between Vietnam and Australia. Furthermore, the recently signed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is projected to have a positive effect on the country's trade relations with the European Union and Germany.

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Vietnam News Today (Aug. 23) notable headlines

State President expects stronger cooperation between Vietnam and Belgium

Vietnam, Laos strengthen court cooperation

Vietnam and Australia work towards a comprehensive strategic partnership goal

EVFTA positively affects Vietnam’s trade with EU, Germany

Tourist destinations actively seeking profitable models for the night economy

Fifth Vietnam-Australia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Hanoi

Vietnam nominates candidate as WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific

Australian FM enjoys a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, coffee in Hanoi

Vietnam Peace Committee’s delegation visits Laos

State President Vo Van Thuong (R) receives visiting President of the Belgian Senate Stéphanie D'Hose in Hanoi on August 22. (Photo: VNA)
State President Vo Van Thuong (R) receives visiting President of the Belgian Senate Stéphanie D’Hose in Hanoi on August 22. (Photo: VNA)

State President expects stronger cooperation between Vietnam and Belgium

State President Vo Van Thuong said he expects to see Vietnam – Belgium cooperation yield more encouraging results, during his reception for visiting President of the Belgian Senate Stéphanie D’Hose in Hanoi on August 22.

He spoke highly of the results of the August 21 talks and meetings between the Belgian guest with Vietnamese leaders, which he believed would open up a new chapter in cooperative relations between the two parliaments and peoples.

He also highly appreciated a draft resolution on assistance to Vietnamese Agent Orange/Dixon victims to be adopted by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives (Lower House), noting this is the good news of great humanitarian significance. On this occasion, he proposed that involved parties work closely with Vietnam to overcome the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin in the country.

Vietnam attaches importance to relations with Belgium and wants to take their bilateral ties to new heights, Thuong assured his guest.

He pointed out that the two countries should bring into full play their cooperation potential, especially in the fields of education, investment, investment, climate change adaptation, digital transformation, and green economy, among others.

The two countries need to further promote people-to-people exchanges and cultural exchanges, so as to enhance mutual understanding and close bond, suggested the president, affirming Vietnam creates favorable conditions for citizens of the two countries to travel, conduct trade exchanges, and cooperate more closely in the coming time, cited VOV.

He also proposed that Belgium coordinate closely with Vietnam at international forums, and support the stance of ASEAN and Vietnam regarding the East Sea issue, including guaranteeing the safety and freedom of navigation and overflight and peacefully settling disputes in accordance with international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Senate President Stéphanie D’Hose for her part highly valued Vietnam’s recent impressive development achievements and revealed that more Belgian delegations would visit Vietnam in the near future to boost investment cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation.

She further disclosed information about the Belgian legislation regarding assistance to Vietnamese dioxin victims, saying the resolution calls on the Belgian Government to promote efforts to provide more aid to the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/dioxin as well as to support the Government of Vietnam in helping the victims.

The Belgian Senate president also expected that the two sides would facilitate their people’s travel to promote tourism, economic and trade cooperation.

President of the Belgian Senate Stephanie D’Hose is in Hanoi for an official visit to Vietnam from August 21 to 25 at the invitation of Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue.

Vietnam, Laos strengthen court cooperation

Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court Nguyen Hoa Binh on August 22 held talks with his Lao counterpart, Viengthong Siphandone, who is on a working visit to Vietnam.

Binh affirmed that the Vietnamese Party, State, and people always attach importance to and give the highest priority to the great friendship, special solidarity, and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos, considering it an invaluable asset with strategic importance to the revolutionary cause of each country.

He stressed the importance of unceasingly fostering and developing the Vietnam-Laos special relationship in all areas, including the two countries’ court sector, according to VNA.

Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court Nguyen Hoa Binh on August 22 holds talks with his Lao counterpart, Viengthong Siphandone. (Photo: baove.congly.vn)
Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court Nguyen Hoa Binh on August 22 holds talks with his Lao counterpart, Viengthong Siphandone. (Photo: baove.congly.vn)

The strengthening of cooperation has been bringing concrete and practical benefits to both court systems, contributing to the common development of each country, and tightening traditional cooperation and friednship between the two nations, he said.

For her part, Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court of Laos Viengthong Siphandon thanked the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam for its support, saying that the Party and State of Laos highly appreciate the close cooperation between the two courts.

She wished Laos would continue to receive support from the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam in the future.

After their talks, the two officials witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the five People’s Courts of provinces that do not share border of Vietnam and Laos.

Chief Justice Binh emphasised that the signing of the MoU of the five provincial People’s Courts has brought the cooperation of the two countries’ courts to a new and more substantive height.

On this occasion, the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam received the first-class Labour Order and Certificate of Merit awarded by the President and Prime Minister of Laos in recognition of its contributions to the cause of construction and development of the special friendship and cooperation between the Party, State and people of the two countries.

Vietnam and Australia work towards a comprehensive strategic partnership goal

Both Vietnam and Australia have made great strides in realizing their strategic partnership goal towards the comprehensive strategic partnership in the near future.

The agreement was reached at the fifth Vietnam – Australia Foreign Ministers Meeting held in Hanoi on August 22 and co-chaired by Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and his visiting Australian counterpart Penny Wong.

The two sides shared the view that over the past five decades the relations between Vietnam and Australia have developed substantially and recorded important achievements on the back of a high level of political trust and effective cooperation in various fields, including security and defense, as well as UN peacekeeping.

Economic-trade cooperation is a major pillar in bilateral relations, with two-way trade turnover reaching nearly US$16 billion last year, making Vietnam the 10th largest trading partner of Australia, and Australia the seventh largest trading partner of Vietnam, reported VOV.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (R) shaking hands with his visiting Australian counterpart Penny Wong ahead of their meeting in Hanoi on August 22. (Photo: baoquocte.vn)
Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (R) shaking hands with his visiting Australian counterpart Penny Wong ahead of their meeting in Hanoi on August 22. (Photo: baoquocte.vn)

The two countries are also increasing cooperation in new cooperation fields, such as climate change and energy transition. During the April 2023 visit to Vietnam by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Australia announced a support package of AUD105 million for Vietnam to build infrastructure to respond to climate change and develop clean energy.

Both Son and Wong highly appreciated the close coordination and cooperation between the two Foreign Ministries, especially in arranging the exchange of high-ranking delegations, including the visits to Vietnam by Australian Governor-General David Hurley in April 2023 and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in June 2023.

The two sides agreed to work closely together to successfully celebrate 50 years of Vietnam – Australia diplomatic relations this year, focusing on effectively implementing high-level agreements, including a plan for the upgrade of the two countries’ relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership announced during the Australia visit by National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue in December 2022, while arranging high-level visits in the coming time as well as implementing existing cooperation mechanisms.

The two Ministers also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern and agreed to strengthen coordination between the two countries, contributing to peace, stability, and cooperation in the region.

Wong voiced Australia’s strong support for the central role of ASEAN and the sustainable development of the Mekong sub-region through cooperation.

Exchanging views on the East Sea issue, the two Ministers affirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the regional waters, in line with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The two sides also agreed to continue to support each country’s candidacies at regional and international organizations and forums, especially the United Nations.

EVFTA positively affecting Vietnam’s trade with EU, Germany: Expert

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which has been effective for three years, has generated positive results, reflected by a record in the trade between Vietnam and the EU, including Germany, according to Dr. Daniel Müller, Regional Manager for ASEAN at the German Asia-Pacific Business Association.

He cited data from the German Federal Statistics Office in August as showing that the trade hit EUR64.3 billion (US$70.26 billion) and that between Vietnam and Germany was EUR18.1 billion in 2022. In the year, Vietnam enjoyed a EUR38.9 billion trade surplus with the EU and EUR11.3 billion with Germany.

The direct and positive effects of the EVFTA on this increase in trade volumes are reasonable, he said, adding that trade in services also increased, bringing a surplus to the EU, cited VNA.

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has generated positive results, according to Dr. Daniel Müller. (Photo: VNA)
The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has generated positive results, according to Dr. Daniel Müller. (Photo: VNA)

For German businesses, the deal is considered an important “addition” in establishing new economic relations or expanding existing commitments with Vietnam. As the EVFTA will gradually eliminate tariffs over the next few years, further positive effects can be expected, he said.

Dr. Müller said that thanks to the EVFTA, access to particular trade areas in Vietnam has become binding and more reliable. The competitive advantages that Vietnam has enjoyed when joining the EVFTA have also made other ASEAN countries such as Thailand and Indonesia more interested in a similar deal with the EU, he added.

Overall, the deal has generated good outcomes for both sides, he said, noting Vietnam’s export has risen considerably and EU and Germany have benefited from importing goods from Vietnam.

According to the expert, businesses should actively grasp and exploit opportunities from EVFTA. He stressed the need to provide more consultations for Vietnamese firms, especially- small and medium-sized enterprises to penetrate the EU market.

He advised Vietnamese firms to enhance their export capacity. The Vietnamese Government should continue to implement commitments, especially in improving the legal framework for foreign businesses, including the protection of intellectual property rights.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how the Supply Chain Act, which has now taken effect from Germany and a similar law coming from the EU, will have an impact on the supply chain from Vietnam, he said.

Dr. Müller highlighted the advantages in bilateral cooperation as the economies and businesses of the two sides can greatly supplement each other. German companies, with their technology and experience, can contribute to the automation and digitization of the production processes in Vietnamese companies as well as the improvement of productivity in Vietnam.

He held that the two sides can work together to build and develop a network of suppliers for the demanding industrial production of German companies in Vietnam. The two sides can also collaborate in workforce development. German companies should systematically support their partners in Vietnam to help them meet the strict standards of exporting into the EU and also to increase the resilience of the supply chain.

However, the expert advised businesses to carefully explore each other’s characteristics as well as the business culture to avoid uncertainties and even disappointments. Regular exchanges and contacts between businesses of the two countries can be a solution to this problem, he suggested.

Tourist destinations actively seeking profitable models for the night economy

Highly aware that cultural-economic activities at night have great impacts on tourists, many localities are eagerly studying feasible, unique models to apply.

Chairman of Da Nang City Tourism Association Cao Tri Dung stated that entertainment activities at night in the city are quite impressive and can basically satisfy the demands of holidaymakers. Yet the city needs more unique, high-level events to attract even more tourists.

Director Bui Quoc Thai of the Kien Giang Province Department of Tourism shared that among the five night-economy models suggested by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, his province is now focusing on cultural performances and culinary introduction.

The first model has been established and maintained in Phu Quoc City, with distinct cultural performances like reals-scene shows about traditional and contemporary arts (Vietnam Essence Show, Once Show), light technology combined with water music (Venice Colors Show, Kiss the Stars Show). This model is extremely successful as it can attract a huge quantity of tourists to come and experience it. Kien Giang Province is now calling for more investment in large-scale cultural performances as well as the construction of a visual entertainment system (theater and music stage, cinema, and community culture points).

The second model has been applied in key tourism zones of the province such as Rach Gia City, Ha Tien City, Phu Quoc City, and Kien Hai District, with a series of food stores, restaurants, seafood shops working at night to serve tourists, cited SGGP.

Many areas in HCMC are running a food street at night to serve tourists, boosting the growth of the night economy (Photo: SGGP)
Many areas in HCMC are running a food street at night to serve tourists, boosting the growth of the night economy (Photo: SGGP)

There is, however, space for more development of the night economy in different localities. Even though Binh Thuan Province has recently seen a surge in holidaymaker number thanks to the introduction of Dau Giay – Phan Thiet and Vinh Hao – Phan Thiet Expressways, local tourist agencies commented that the actual spending of tourists in the province is rather low compared to other places. This is because of a serious lack of night-life activities (night markets, local cuisine exploration, cultural shows).

Facing a similar negative challenge is Vung Tau City of Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, not far from HCMC. Although the areas at the Front and Back Beaches are lit all night, poor night-life activities except a few food stores there prevent visitors from gathering and spending money.

Aware of that, Vung Tau City has developed a plan to focus more on night tourism services such as pedestrian streets, night markets, regular music festivals and cultural shows. These are expected to provide more chances for both tourists and residents to enjoy the night, boosting the local economy.

According to Decision No.1894/QD-BVHTTDL by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on a project to develop various models of night tourism products, by 2025, such localities as Hanoi, the cities of Hai Phong, Da Nang, Hoi An, Da Lat, Can Tho, Phu Quoc, Ho Chi Minh, and the provinces of Quang Ninh, Thua Thien Hue, Khanh Hoa, Ba Ria – Vung Tau must launch at least one night tourism model. The three cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Da Nang must form their own unique night entertainment complex to become the brand name of Vietnam’s night tourism products.

Rosie Nguyen