The Australia‐Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership
Carlyle A. Thayer
ABSTRACTOn September 7, 2009, Australia and Vietnam issued a joint statement in Canberra declaringtheir bilateral relationship was a “comprehensive partnership.” This declaration was given effecta year later when both sides agreed to a Plan of Action for 2010‐13. This paper provides a broadoverview of the “three pillars” that constitute the comprehensive partnership between Vietnamand Australia: (1) political and security cooperation; (2) economic cooperation; and (3) people‐to‐people cooperation. The paper is divided into three sections to reflect each of these pillars.The first section discusses high‐level visits, bilateral regional security and human rightsdialogues, defence cooperation, police liaison to address transnational crime and consultationsThe second section examines trade, investment and development cooperation. The third sectiondiscusses educational cooperation and provides a case study of a private academic initiative(Wandering Souls) to provide information on the graves of Vietnamese soldiers killed during theVietnam War. The analysis in this paper concludes that the bilateral relationship is indeed acomprehensive one. Australia is among the biggest providers of professional military educationand training to the Vietnamese armed forces. Vietnam is the fastest growing trade partner forAustralia among the ten ASEAN states. Australia is Vietnam’s fourth largest export market andthe seventeenth largest investor in Vietnam. Vietnamese constitute the largest internationalstudent community in Australia. The paper concludes by canvassing future areas of cooperation.
Background to the Comprehensive Partnership
Australia and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV or North Vietnam) wereprotagonists during the Vietnam War. In February 1973, Australia and the DRV formallyestablished diplomatic relations after the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements(Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring the Peace in Vietnam) the previousmonth. The Paris agreement did not bring peace and the Vietnam War continued untilApril 30, 1975 with the fall of Saigon. Vietnam was formally reunified the following yearunder the new name Socialist Republic of Vietnam.With the exception of the Scandinavian countries, Australia was one of the first westerncountries to recognize the DRV. The Whitlam Labor Government provided developmentassistance and scholarships for students to study in Australia.
Relations soured during
Emeritus Professor, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, The University of New South Wales andthe Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra. Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org
For a review of Australia‐Vietnam relations during this period consult: Carlyle A. Thayer, “Australia andVietnam: Trade, Investment and Aid,” Paper presented to the 1st International Symposium on TheCountries of Indochina and International Economic Co‐operation: Potentialities and Prospects, organizedby the Association of Soviet Indo‐Sinologists and the International Centre for Scientific and TechnicalInformation, Moscow, Russian Federation, April 13‐17, 1992 and Carlyle A. Thayer, “Avstraliia i V’etnam:torgovlia, investitsii, politika,” in E. P. Glazunov, G. G. Kadymov, V. M. Mazyrin and E. A. Fomicheva, eds.,
Strany Indokitaia v mezhdunarodnom ekonomicheskom sotrudnichestve: vozmozhnosti i perspektivy