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Rudd Meets With Vietnamese Prime Minister

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has met with his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, in Canberra.

The two leaders held a joint press conference this morning.

  • Click the Play button to listen to the press conference (35m)

Transcript of Joint Press Conference with His Excellency Mr Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Prime Minister’s Courtyard, Parliament House.

RUDD: The Prime Minister of Vietnam, Prime Minister Dung, will make some remarks and then as is the custom, we’ll invite a couple of questions each from the Australian side and from the Vietnamese side.

Firstly, on behalf of the Government and people of Australia, I would warmly welcome Prime Minister Dung on his visit to Australia and this, his first visit to Australia.

Thirty-five years ago under Prime Minister Whitlam our diplomatic relationship was established between Australia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. And 35 years later we honour, we thank you Prime Minister for honouring us with this visit in honour of this anniversary. And today the Prime Minister and I have agreed to lay out a road map for the next 35 years. Both Prime Minister Dung and I believe in long-term planning.

Vietnam is an important country in South East Asia. Currently a population of nearly 90 million people, and by the year 2025, 2030, a population of 150 million. And Vietnam is therefore becoming one of the strong and important pillars in South East Asia. It’s in both Australia’s interest and Vietnam’s interest to take our existing strong bilateral relationship therefore, and make it even stronger into the future.

The Prime Minister and I exchanged our views on the impact of the global financial crisis on our respective economies and on the future of the global economy. Now, we agreed that the global economy faces difficult and uncertain times ahead but that underlines the importance of coordinated international action and we intend as two governments to be in close contact on that action including the collaboration between our respective central banks.

I thanked the Prime Minister for Vietnam’s strong support for the successful negotiation for the ASEAN Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. This agreement we hope to have signed by year’s end but it brings together Australia and an economic entity which is very large indeed – the combined economies of South East Asia. I also thanked the Prime Minister for the government’s speedy decision to provide the ANZ Banking Group with a foreign banking licence for its operations in Vietnam. Finally, the bilateral trade between our countries has now reached nearly $7 billion. The prospects are very good and we intend to build this bilateral relationship to take that economic engagement even further.

Prime Minister Dung, you are a welcome guest in our country, you’re a welcome guest here in our national capital, Canberra, and I’d invite you to make some remarks.

PM DUNG (Translator): His Excellency Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, distinguished guests, dear friends. I’d like to thank you Prime Minister for your excellent words about our excellent adult (inaudible) friendship and I fully agree with what you have just said.

I’m very pleased to make my very first visit to this beautiful country of Australia on the occasion of our 35th celebration of the diplomatic relations between our two countries. My wife and I, as well as the entire delegation, would like to express our sincere thanks to Mr Prime Minister and all Australian friends for their warm and cultural welcome extended to us right from the very moment we landed in Canberra.

The Prime Minister and I got a very successful meeting based on the spirit of friendship, construction and mutual respect and understanding. The two governments are very (inaudible) since the establishment of our diplomatic relations. Thirty-five years ago we have been able to establish a really good and strong friendship and cooperation in many areas.

We have got good cooperation in such areas as politics, diplomacy, economics, trade, investment, tourism (inaudible), education and training, culture, defence, security and many others. Those cooperations have brought about practical benefits to both sides and contribute greatly to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.

And on that spirit the Prime Minister and I agreed to further endeavour to bring our cooperation and friendship to a more comprehensive and more effective stage. We also agreed to further accelerate and promote cooperation in trade and investments because these are the areas that possess great potential.

This will be further facilitated as the two countries have concluded the negotiation, the bilateral negotiations, on the ASEAN Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and Australia has agreed in principle to recognise Vietnam’s market economy and to reconsider its quarantine measures on Vietnamese seafood.

I’m very glad to inform you that during my visit the government of Vietnam has decided to grant the licence for the ANZ Group for 100 percent local incorporation in Vietnam. This is the third foreign bank to receive such a licence.


The Prime Minister also announced to me that the Government of Australia will fund the designing phase of the Cao Lanh Bridge in Mekong Delta Province of Vietnam, which is a very significant construction for the socioeconomic development of the region. And Australia will consider further assistance to Vietnam in the construction phase of this bridge.

We’re also thankful for the very effective assistance from Australia in the development of our education and training. In particular, the Prime Minister has informed me that Australia will increase the number of scholarships for Vietnam from 150 to 175.

We are also very thankful for the Australian Government and people for welcoming Vietnamese students to your country. Today, nearly 10,000 Vietnamese students study in Australia. This is the largest number of Vietnamese students abroad. They will be excellent bridges connecting our two nations.

We do appreciate the presence of RMIT and the University of Melbourne in Vietnam. They have truly contributed to our development.

We have also agreed to further boost our cooperation in other areas such as agriculture, defence, security, culture, science and technology, to name a few.

And I have the honour to invite the Prime Minister and his wife to visit Vietnam in early 2009, and my invitation has been accepted.

And, we would like also to thank the Australian Government and people for giving a happy home to the Vietnamese community in Australia, helping them to integrate and contribute to the prosperity of Australia.

And I commend the contributions of the Vietnamese community here to the furtherance of our friendship and our cooperation.

We have also agreed to work together and Australia will apply necessary and appropriate measures to prevent such acts that might harm our bilateral ties.

And, building upon the excellent friendship between our two countries and on humanitarian grounds, I’ve informed the Prime Minister, the Vietnamese President has decided to grant clemency to two Vietnamese Australians charged with drug trafficking.

And besides, we also touched on various other areas of cooperation.

I hope that after my visit, and with the efforts made by both sides we will be able to bring our friendship and cooperation to a more comprehensive level that’s deeper and more substantial in the benefit of the two peoples and for the sake of peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.

Thank you very much.

RUDD: Thanks very much Prime Minister. If I could invite the first question from the Vietnamese side.

JOURNALIST: (Translator) Could you elaborate a little bit more about the concrete measures and solutions to bring our economic trade and investment ties to a higher level?

RUDD: If I could begin by answering and then I’ll turn to Prime Minister Dung. Firstly, the state of the bilateral trade relationship is very good, with as I said $7 billion in bilateral trade, and this is a very good foundation to build on.

The second building block is the agreement for an ASEAN wide Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement which, with the support of the Vietnamese government, should be signed at the end of this year.

Thirdly, the decision announced today in relation to the ANZ over time will lead to an expanded services and financial services trade between our two countries and that will be an important new building block for the future.

Two other concrete areas for expansion are education services where the operations of RMIT, we believe together with other Australian education services, can be significantly expanded in the future. Together with a significant increase in the number of Vietnamese students studying in Australia, which is the sale of Australian education services, plus new building blocks for economic ties in the future.

Currently we have about 200 Australian companies operating in Vietnam with a paid up capital investment of in excess of a billion dollars. We would want to see that expanded in the future as well including in new and expanding areas like mining.

Did you wish to add, Prime Minister?

PM DUNG (Translator): I fully agree with Prime Minister Rudd about the steps and solutions to further bring us our trade, economic and investment ties. You can see that bilateral trade in 2007 reached a figure of 7 billion US dollars and this year this figure might well come to over 8 billion and the potential for further, for bigger trade is there.

For instance, if the agreements by both sides today on the reconsideration of the quotes and measures on seafood import from Vietnam is well observed then we can see a much bigger trade volume between us.

Today Australia is the 17th largest investors in Vietnam with a total capital of one billion US dollars. However, there remains a number of other prospective projects that might receive their licence very soon. This will further boost our investment ties.

Besides, there are two important factors. First, it is our excellent diplomatic and political ties which is progressing by the day. The second factor is the large Vietnamese community in Australia. There are now 250,000 or more of them here. Plus, 10,000 Vietnamese students. They are the practical bridges, not only in terms of connecting our nations and building up our friendship, but also in boosting economic, trade and investment ties between us. Thank you very much.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on the financial crisis, how much of the surplus are you prepared to spend down to help see the country through this period? Are you considering some sort of interim payment to pensioners to help them in the short term and to provide some stimulus to the economy?

RUDD: When we framed the last budget we did say it took some tough decisions to build a surplus as a buffer for the future. And the surplus was put aside for tough times. And those tough times have now come.

So the Government is resolved, as we have indicated before, to take decisive action as is necessary to support economic growth into the future. The Government is considering practical measures to that effect as we speak and we will make further statements as are necessary.

This action will include of course the Government’s nation building agenda for the future and other measures.

And if I could take another question from the Vietnamese side.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) the Vietnam-Australian relation has kept along strongly in recent times and do you have any comments on the prospect for the relation next time?

RUDD: My comments are these – that when it comes to the Australia -Vietnam relationship, we should be very ambitious for the future.

Vietnam is a big country, and it’s getting bigger. But the base of expanding the relationship lies in expanding also the political relationship.

The Prime Minister and I have already spoken on the telephone before, but it’s good to spend quite a bit of time here today in Canberra. And I look forward to visiting his country later next year.

The great thing about the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Prime Minister Dung, is that he strikes me as a very practical sort of bloke. Which means that in building practical cooperation projects in the future, I think we can really do business with each other. So we’ll be spending more time on the phone in the mean time on those projects.

Do you wish to add Prime Minister?

Given that the Prime Minister doesn’t appear to add, I think there has been some caucusing over here, and we’ll go to the West Australian.

JOURNALIST: What specific measures are you considering? And when it comes to pensions, areyou ruling out acting on pensions before the Harmer Review comes down in February-March?

RUDD: I believe that the purpose of having a surplus is to make sure you’ve got a buffer for the tough times. And the tough times have come. That means making sure that you’re taking necessary measures, all necessary measures, to contribute to positive economic growth in the future and to help families on the way through.

On the detail of those measures, the government will make further statements in due course.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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