Vietnam: Australia’s fastest growing ASEAN trade partner

By Ha Phuong   September 30, 2016 | 12:48 am PT
Bilateral trade is forecast to jump 12 percent this year on the back of a free trade deal.

Vietnam is now Australia’s fastest growing trade partner in Southeast Asia as a result of the ASEAN Australia New Zealand free trade agreement (AANZFTA), according to a recent HSBC report.

Last year, bilateral trade between Vietnam and Australia stood at around AU$10 billion ($7.7 billion), making Vietnam the second smallest trade partner among the six Southeast Asian countries covered in the ASEAN Connected report. 

However, with rapid growth in trade relations, both countries are expecting a 12 percent jump this year.

“It is crucial for Australia’s future prosperity that we find ways to reinforce our competitive position in ASEAN, as the region becomes more interconnected and attracts more and more of the world’s best and brightest,” the report quoted Export Council of Australia CEO Lisa McAuley as saying.

Considering the lack of FTAs in Australia, the AANFTA is considered the key for Australian companies to access the Vietnamese market. Additionally, Vietnam is involved in negotiations for several other trade deals, and as a developing country in need of numerous reforms, the country stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of further economic liberalization through these initiatives.

“We have seen more upscale production starting to move to Vietnam. Some of the internationally well-known electronics firms are not just looking at manufacturing and chip plants, but also R&D centers, which are being set up this year,” said Winfield Wong, head of wholesale banking at HSBC Vietnam.

Rapid economic growth is making Vietnam hungry for fresh talents, and naturally demand for studying overseas is growing. This opens up a big opportunity for Australian education services, particularly in the tertiary and professional areas.

Education is currently Australia’s largest export to Vietnam and a key component of the bilateral relationship, said Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. With 30,000 enrollments, Vietnam was the third largest source of overseas students for Australia last year, after China and India.

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