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PM visits Austria as part of European trip

Released at: 10:30, 16/10/2018

PM visits Austria as part of European trip

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc (L) and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at their joint press conference on October 15 (Photo: VGP)

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Europe from October 14 to 21.

by Long Van

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his spouse began an official visit to Austria on October 14 as part of his trip to Europe, where he will also pay official visits to Belgium and Denmark, make a working visit to the EU, and attend the 12th ASEM Summit (ASEM 12) and the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 Summit (P4G).

According to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), during their talks in Vienna on October 15, Prime Minister Phuc and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz expressed their delight at the fine development of bilateral relations since the two countries established diplomatic ties on December 1, 1972.

Chancellor Kurz, as quoted by the news agency, stressed that the Vietnamese leader’s official visit marks an important milestone in bilateral relations, while appreciating Vietnam’s development and integration achievements as well as its increasing role in the region and the world. He hoped for stronger and more comprehensive development in the bilateral relationship in the time to come.

The leaders exchanged views on measures to boost bilateral collaboration in all fields, ranging from politics, diplomacy, and security and defense to economics, trade, investment, culture, and tourism.

They agreed to increase the exchange of all-level delegations and effectively carry out bilateral cooperative mechanisms, especially the inter-governmental committee.

The leaders noted with pleasure that Vietnam remained Austria’s largest trade partner in Southeast Asia while Austria maintained its position as one of the ten export markets of Vietnam in the EU. They agreed to exert greater efforts to make Austria one of Vietnam’s leading economic partners in Europe.

Chancellor Kurz affirmed that with its role as the EU Chair in the second half of 2018 and as a close partner of Vietnam, Austria backs and will push for the early signing and ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

He said that the agreement will open up major opportunities for economic, trade, and investment cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, as well as Vietnam and Austria.

The Chancellor also appreciated the Vietnamese community in Austria for their contributions to the host country’s socioeconomic development and bilateral relations.

Prime Minister Phuc, in turn, thanked the Austrian Government for its support and preferential loans for projects in the fields of railways, healthcare, and vocational training.

He commended the effective operations of 30 Austrian businesses in Vietnam in the spheres of health, high technology, environment, and agriculture.

The two leaders agreed to work closely in implementing projects using preferential Austrian loans while also encouraging the two countries’ enterprises to enhance investment and business connectivity and cooperation in necessary fields for Vietnam’s development, such as transport infrastructure, clean energy development, vocational training, science and technology, tourism, healthcare, and, especially, smart city building.

Prime Minister Phuc took the occasion to thank and propose the Austrian side continue creating favorable conditions for the Vietnamese community in Austria to fully integrate into local society and stabilize their lives.

In addition to bilateral collaboration, the two leaders also discussed international and regional issues of shared concern. They committed to promoting bilateral cooperation at international forums and organizations such as the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the ASEAN-EU, and the UN.

They also exchanged views and affirmed the importance of maintaining peace, security, and stability for cooperation and development as well as settling differences and disputes in the East Sea by peaceful measures in line with international law, the UN Charter, and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Following the talks, Prime Minister Phuc and Chancellor Kurz witnessed the signing of some cooperation documents. They included a funding agreement on a project improving medical equipment for Cho Ray Hospital’s tumor center, worth €25 million, between the Ministry of Finance and Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank; a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on scientific-technological cooperation between the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science, and Research; and another MoU on e-commerce cooperation and Industry 4.0 between the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Austrian Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs.

After their talks, the two leaders held a joint press conference. The two sides also issued a joint statement affirming the importance of boosting bilateral economic, trade, and investment cooperation.

At the press conference, the Austrian Chancellor highlighted the sound bilateral relations over the past five decades, saying that there remains potential for both sides to further boost their cooperative ties.

He said that 30 Austrian businesses currently operating in Vietnam are satisfied and expressed his hope that more Austrian firms will invest in Vietnam in the time to come.

Prime Minister Phuc, for his part, said the two leaders agreed to create favorable conditions for enterprises of both nations to continue cooperation and investment, to make Austria a leading economic partner of Vietnam in the EU.

The two sides agreed on a range of specific measures to deepen bilateral ties, he said, adding that Vietnam thanked the Austrian Government for its provision of soft loans in railways, healthcare, and vocational training.

The Prime Minister believes that with the positive outcomes of the talks and the long-lasting friendship and cooperation between the two countries, the Vietnam-Austria relationship will continue to thrive.

In an article on the relationship between Vietnam and Austria, VNA reported that Austria was one of the first Western countries to set up diplomatic relations, in 1972, when the latter’s struggle for national independence was still ongoing.

The two countries have maintained all-round cooperation through regular high-level meetings and exchange of visits, along with cooperation at multilateral forums like the UN and ASEM.

In 1995, the two sides set up a joint working group to bolster collaborative ties in economics, trade and investment. In August 2010, the group was upgraded to the Vietnam-Austria intergovernmental committee at the deputy ministerial level on cooperation in economy and trade. The committee held its ninth meeting in March last year.

Two-way trade has grown in recent years, surpassing $4 billion in 2017. Vietnam’s exports to Austria include telephones and spare parts, footwear, wood and wooden products, garments, machinery, equipment and spare parts. Meanwhile, the country imports pharmaceuticals, machinery, equipment, steel, paper, animal feed, and materials from Austria.

Austria is the sixth largest importer of Vietnam in Europe. Vietnam earned $2.58 billion from shipments to the European country in the first seven months of 2018, up 47 per cent year-on-year, while spending $167 million purchasing Austrian goods; 16 per cent lower than the same period last year.

As at August, Austria ranked 43rd among 129 countries and territories with investments in Vietnam, having 31 valid projects valued at $143.9 million. Most are of small and medium size, focusing on processing and manufacturing, hotels, restaurants, and entertainment.

Regarding Austria’s official development assistance (ODA), preferential loans have been used to develop Vietnam’s railway network, medical equipment, fire-fighting and prevention, and vocational training, among others.

The two countries have also experienced thriving cooperation in culture. Austria annually sends experts to give lectures at the Hanoi Academy of Theater and Cinema and the Vietnam National Academy of Music. They inked an MoU on cultural cooperation on the occasion of the Austrian President’s visit to Vietnam in May 2012.

Austria grants some 20 post-graduate scholarships to Vietnam every year, and the Austrian Embassy in Hanoi has supported Vietnamese universities offering German language training with teaching and study materials and equipment.

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