Vietnam Time

4/9/2018 3:59:36 PM

Vietnam not only partner but also friend: Australian Assistant Minister

The third Taste of Australia, an annual event that promotes Australian food and beverages, has begun and this year also marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Vietnam News speaks with Australia’s Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Mark Coulton.

Australian Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Mark Coulton MP (second right), Australian Ambassador in Vietnam Craig Chittick (first right) and guests. (Photo: Australian Embassy in Vietnam)

Q: After 45 years of relations, what is the status of trade, investment and tourism between the two nations?

Australia’s Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Mark Coulton: I believe that we as two nations are as close together as we have ever been. After 45 years of diplomatic relations, we are now parts of ASEAN, we are part of the TPP11, but we also got our own strategic partnership signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Australia two weeks ago. Our trade is growing, the number of students from either country going either way is at a high level. I think the two countries have become close friends over the years. Three hundred thousand people in Australia have direct Vietnamese heritage; we have these direct family links.

Tourism from Australia is growing rapidly. People I talked to who visited Vietnam are very excited and enthusiastic about the Vietnamese holiday experience. Vietnam has a really solid reputation in Australia as a tourist destination. We would like to see more as Vietnam’s economy grows and more Vietnamese have higher incomes and can travel more. We encourage international tourists to go not to just big cities but also regional Australia. We have more work to do, but I think there is great potential.

We are seeing investment now. From my short visit over the last couple of days I see that there is a belief that there could be more investment from Australia. Australia has already had many successful companies doing businesses in Vietnam. They are very fast-developed companies that are employing lots of local people. There is a lot more we can do to encourage Australian companies to invest here. It would be beneficial for both.

I am very comfortable here. Our relationship has matured, we are now not only partners but also friends. When people trust each other, that is a great basis for building trade and security. As we have seen in the last couple of weeks the trade relationship between countries like China and the US has been quite volatile. It is important that Vietnam and Australia are seen as sensible trading nations and an example of a relationship built on trust.              

Q: Can you comment on the future of Vietnamese markets for Australian products?

Last night I was at the Taste of Australia gala, it was interesting to see a lot of Vietnamese dishes made with Australian produce. That is our strength: we can produce a lot of high-quality produce and high quality wheat or cotton. There is a real opportunity to grow those markets too.

Q: Vietnamese fruits like longan and lychee are coming to Australia. How can more fruits enter Australia?

We are working on those fruits at the moment. Australia doesn’t have a lot of diseases that other countries have. We are very particular about the process that we put in place for imports. Longans are going through risk assessment. Hopefully for both of us these fruits can be imported and pose no risk to Australia.

Taste of Australia in Ho Chi Minh City on April 5th. (VNA/VNS Photo The Anh)

Taste of Australia is an annual Vietnam-wide celebration that promotes Australian food, beverages, culture and design to Vietnamese industry and consumers through a range of business, trade and public events. It highlights Australia’s vibrant culinary culture, world-class culinary education, and innovative agricultural expertise and the country’s reputation as a supplier of high-quality, safe and sustainable food and beverages.

Taste of Australia is a partnership between the Australian Government and producers, distributors, retailers, restaurants and organisations in both Vietnam and Australia that showcases the best Australia has to offer.

The event, led by Vietnamese-Australian celebrity chef Luke Nguyen, takes place across Vietnam’s major cities including HCM City, Hanoi, Nha Trang and Da Nang from early April until the 22nd./.

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