PHAM BINH MINH: Excellency Mr Minister, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Vietnam on this official visit and I'm very [inaudible] because Vietnam is one of the first destinations in your new capacity as Foreign Minister of Australia.
I believe that your visit to Vietnam will further enhance the Comprehensive Partnership between Vietnam and Australia.
Mr Minister and I have had a very candid and friendly talk. We have touched upon all the matters concerning the two countries and work on measures [inaudible] to all the matters.
We are [inaudible] of the great potential for cooperation between the two countries in celebration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties, established between Vietnam and Australia from 1973 to 2013.
We have exchanged views on vast areas of political, economic, trade, investment, education, culture and defence cooperation.
We have agreed on working together in further cooperation between the two countries in the areas that two sides share potential advantages, such as tourism, education, culture and the enhancement of the signing of agreements on visas and the programs of holiday labour between the two countries.
We also agreed on the further exchange of high-level visits between the two countries in order to create the foundation for the further strengthening of relations.
About economic and trade cooperation, I am pleased to inform you that Vietnam has become the 13th largest partner on trade for Australia and Australia has become the 15th largest trading partner of Vietnam, with the trade turnover growing continuously in 2011. The two-way trade turnover has accounted for 20 per cent, which is bigger than the previous years.
We also agreed on further increasing the trade cooperation, so that it may be able to refine political relations between the two countries. And both sides are committed to facilitating the investment in areas like mining, oil and gas, light industry, construction, services. And we would like Australia to facilitate Vietnamese investment in Australia, especially in areas like forestry and agriculture.
Vietnam appreciates Australia's ODA project grants to our country and we are committed to effectively implementing all of the aid projects that have been granted.
Vietnam highly appreciates education cooperation with Australia. Australia has been the country that hosts the largest [number of] Vietnamese students studying overseas, totalling 25 000 students. And we want to further enhance the cooperation in education and are really appreciative to the Australian Government for raising [the number of] short-term and long-term scholarships for Vietnamese students.
We also talked about further cooperation between Vietnam and Australia in international forums such as the United Nations and other regional forums like the EAS.
It's my firm belief that the outcome of the talks today will further enhance the bilateral ties between Vietnam and Australia. Thank you very much.
I would like to invite Mr Minister to speak.
BOB CARR: Minister, thank you very much. I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday afternoon, my first visit to Vietnam as Australia's Foreign Minister. I come as a good friend of Vietnam and hope at the end of my visit I will be regarded by my hosts as a good friend of Vietnam.
I am pleased to visit Vietnam on my first overseas visit since being sworn in as Australia's Foreign Minister. My visit reaffirms the priority I attach to developing relations with a country emerging as one of Australia's most important partners in the Asia Pacific.
In Ho Chi Minh City I visited the RMIT International University, which is a symbol of Australia's commitment to educating young Vietnamese. And I'm proud of its role, of our big contribution of scholarships. I'm proud that we have 25 000 Vietnamese enrolled in Australian universities. We are proud that we are the first destination of choice for Vietnamese seeking an education overseas. That, for us as Australians, is a very great honour.
Two-way trade last year, including services, was worth over six billion Australian dollars. And I'm very conscious we need to work hard to lift this further and that's why yesterday I was proud to open a large new Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City, with 90 staff. It is going to project, in that bustling commercial centre, Australia's interest in lifting trade and investment with Vietnam.
Some big Australian investors in Vietnam are banks (ANZ Bank and Commonwealth Bank), education (RMIT), oil and gas (for example Santos), Bluescope Strategic Marine and Interflour, in manufacturing.
Here in Hanoi, it has been very valuable to meet with my counterpart Foreign Minister Minh. Earlier this afternoon I also had productive meetings with President Sang and Minister of Planning and Investment Vinh.
In each of these meetings I sought to underline Australia's commitment to our relationship with Vietnam, which has grown so strongly, it culminated in the establishment of our Comprehensive Partnership in 2009.
Our biggest aid project is the Cao Lanh Bridge, which is an investment of 160 million dollars over six years. And we're very proud of the fact that we're the largest provider of government scholarships in Vietnam; 468 Australia Awards in 2011.
In the spirit of dialogue, I raised human rights and said that we would continue to engage with Vietnam, particularly through our annual Human Rights Dialogue.
Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam. This is a major milestone and we have invited Vietnam's leaders to visit Australia to mark the occasion. I extended an invitation to Foreign Minister Minh to visit Australia at the earliest opportunity.
Let me conclude by thanking my Vietnamese hosts for their very warm welcome. It means a great deal to me as the new Foreign Minister for Australia. Thank you.
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