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Kevin Rudd says Vietnam important partner of Australia

Resource type: News

The Saigon Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

By Mong Binh.

HCMC – Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said Vietnam was becoming one of Australia’s most important partners in Asia-Pacific given this ASEAN nation’s increasing role in the region and its growth.

Rudd was speaking to over 200 people including government and corporate representatives at a function that RMIT International University Vietnam held on Wednesday to mark the official opening of a recreation and events complex and a residential center for students at its Saigon South campus in HCMC’s District 7.

“Vietnam’s success is important to Australia’s success,” Rudd said. “Indeed, Australia recognizes Vietnam as one of our most important partners in the region – vital now, more vital the further we press into the 21st century.”

Rudd said more than two-thirds of Australia’s trade was with Asia and Asia bought three-quarters of that country’s merchandise exports. This was why he said the achievements of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the greater East Asian region was core to Australia’s success.

As a member of the ASEAN bloc and an emerging economy in the Asia Pacific region, Vietnam is opening the door wider for Australia’s exports. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s figures indicated merchandise exports to Vietnam in 2009-2010 grew 14.1% year-on-year to exceed A$1.4 billion though bilateral trade between the two countries declined.

The two-way merchandise trade between Australia and Vietnam surpassed A$4.5 billion in 2009-2010, down 19.9%. In this period, Australia’s major exports to Vietnam included wheat, copper and aluminum while imports from Vietnam were mainly crude oil, furniture, fruits and nuts, and footwear.

Footwear and garment were among the potential products that Vietnamese companies were able to boost shipments to Australia and that country welcomed quality products, Rudd told reporters after the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the RMIT facilities.

Margaret Gardner, vice chancellor and president of RMIT University Australia, told the opening ceremony that the complex and residential center took a total US$15.2 million investment.

The complex is consisted of a sports field used for football, rugby union, cricket, softball, baseball; tennis courts; an indoor multi-functional court for basketball, badminton, volleyball and table tennis, a gymnasium, rooms for meetings, aerobics, dancing, yoga, martial arts, a café and a health clinic.

The residential center provides international-standard accommodation for up to 240 residents in a mix of single, twin share rooms, and apartments of three and five bedrooms.

Gardner said RMIT Vietnam had experienced a decade of growth, and investment from RMIT and Atlantic Philanthropies since its beginnings in 2000. The university has around 6,000 students at its campuses in HCMC and Hanoi, and over 11,000 students being educated with educational partners in other cities in the region.

Australian companies had registered over US$1.1 billion for around 235 projects in Vietnam as of December 2010, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said on its website.

The Australian foreign minister said economic cooperation through trade, investment and development cooperation was one of the three strong pillars in the Comprehensive Partnership the two countries framed together in 2009.

As the fourth largest economy in Asia, Rudd said Australia wanted to build a long-term partnership with Vietnam, whose gross domestic product expanded by nearly 6.8% last year and is projected to grow 7-7.5% in the next five years.

During his visit to Vietnam, Rudd met senior Government officials to discuss strengthening regional architecture through the East Asia Summit (EAS) and supporting measures to increase stability and prosperity in the region.

RMIT International University Vietnam is an Atlantic grantee.

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