Roundtable with HE Nguyen Tat Thanh
On Friday 29 July 2022, the Perth USAsia Centre was privileged to host His Excellency Nguyen Tat Thanh, Ambassador of Vietnam to Australia, for a private roundtable discussion.
As Australia-Vietnam relations approach their 50th anniversary in early 2023, the depth and width of bilateral relations have expanded as both countries increasingly recognise each other’s strategic importance.
Ambassador Thanh joined an audience of leaders from business, government and academia to discuss what could be done to realise the full potential of this relationship, particularly in the education, labour mobility and defence industries.
Conversation touched on the past challenges of the Australia-Vietnam relationship, including the Vietnam war, before moving on to discussion of the key role Vietnam plays in ASEAN and specifically the Mekong Sub Region. Australia and Vietnam have been working together on shared solutions in the Mekong Delta provinces, including through a Vietnamese integrated response plan for the Mekong Delta’s development. Vietnam’s role as a leader of the Mekong Sub Region was noted as strategically important to Australia’s own interests in the area and its relationships with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
Examination of the bilateral by the discussants surfaced three areas of focus: Australia was called on to become an active defence and security partner for Vietnam; expediate cooperation in labour mobility between the two countries; and in energy and renewables.
Questions from the participants centred on the ongoing South China Sea dispute, supply chain cooperation, and trade agreements like the CPTPP, and ASEAN centrality.
The room was energised and optimistic about the future of an Australia-Vietnam relationship centred around respect, transparency and demand-driven economic cooperation. The elevation of Australia’s ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership was noted with excitement.