Vietnam-Australia local-to-local partnership: ‘Bright star in the shining sky’

WVR – In parallel with the expansion of trade and investment ties, the spectrum of bilateral cooperation between Vietnam and Australia has grown more diverse and robust, particularly following the elevation of their relationship to a Strategic Partnership in 2018.
Vietnam-Australia Friendship Association and artist Nguyen Hong Anh presented the painting "Prayer from the forest of fire" to the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, February 6, 2020. (Source:
Vietnam-Australia Friendship Association and artist Nguyen Hong Anh presented the painting “Prayer from the forest of fire” to the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, February 6, 2020. (Source:

Assessing the 50-year relationship between Vietnam and Australia, which is characterized by its ever-increasing comprehensiveness, parity, and integrity, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski said that the cooperation between the two nations is notable for several reasons and attempting to identify the foremost among them is, “like gazing upon a starry night sky, it’s difficult to point out the brightest star”.

Local collaboration shines brightly as a standout element within the extensive cooperation between Vietnam and Australia. Substantial progress in local-to-local connectivity and people-to-people exchanges within this framework yields tangible benefits that actively contribute to stability and prosperity. These accomplishments form the pillars of cooperation between the two nations and are considered crucial to the broader bilateral relationship by leaders at all echelons.

Presently, Vietnam and Australia maintain partnerships between 15 pairs of twinned localities, with notable pairs including Khanh Hoa –Northern Territory of Australia (established in September 1999), Ho Chi Minh City –Queensland (established in October 2005), Ba Ria-Vung Tau – Northern Territory of Australia (established in September 2007), Ho Chi Minh City – Northern Territory of Australia (established in February 2014), Lang Son – Goulburn Mulware City (established in November 2018), Ho Chi Minh City – New South Wales (established in April 2019), and Da Nang – Gold Coast City (established in December 2020), among others.

Several regional leaders from Australia have visited Vietnam, including Chief Minister Michael Gunner of the Northern Territory of Australia in November 2018, Victorian State Governor Linda Dessau in September 2019, Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey in May 2019, the Governor of South Australia Frances Adamson in October 2022, and the Governor of New South Wales Margaret Beazley from May 21-24 this year.

Governor of South Australia Frances Adamson AC visited and worked in Hanoi, interacting with students at Hanoi Adelaide School. (Source:
Governor of South Australia Frances Adamson AC visited and worked in Hanoi, interacting with students at Hanoi Adelaide School. (Source:

In the most recent development, the Memorandum of Cooperation signed in May 2022 between two significant economic hubs, Ho Chi Minh City and the state of Victoria, is viewed as an exemplary model for future local-to-local partnerships. Leveraging their inherent wealth of potential, these localities are anticipated to not only advance their conventional collaborations but also progressively broaden their horizons into areas of increasing relevance, such as urban planning and climate change mitigation.

Responding to pressing need, particularly within the Vietnamese context, Australia has emerged as one of the most significant non-repayable official development assistance (ODA) providers (with an average annual commitment of 92.7 million AUD from 2013 to 2019 and 78.9 million AUD per year during the period spanning 2020 to 2022). In October 2022, the Australian Parliament decided to boost ODA for Vietnam by 18% to reach 92.8 million AUD in the fiscal year 2022-2023, marking the most substantial ODA increase since 2015.

In the budget estimate for the fiscal year 2023-2024, unveiled on May 11, Australia has once again boosted its assistance to Vietnam by 2.5%, reaching a total of 95.1 million AUD. As a result, over the span of 50 years since the inception of diplomatic relations, Australia has provided Vietnam with a cumulative sum of 3 billion AUD (equivalent to approximately 47,000 trillion VND) in official development assistance.

Pursuing a shared objective to advance bilateral trade and investment, the collaboration has been fortified through the execution of the Vietnam-Australia Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy (EEES, December 2021). In accordance with this strategy, the leaders and citizens of both nations are united in their efforts to foster inclusive economic growth, bolster income levels, generate and support employment opportunities, and alleviate production costs for individuals and businesses.

Moreover, the expanded development cooperation between Australia and Vietnam has played a pivotal role in advancing Vietnam’s comprehensive endeavors to bolster its security and healthcare systems, promote awareness of human rights principles, enhance institutional capacity, uplift educational standards, cultivate a pool of highly skilled professionals, stimulate scientific and technological collaboration, and fortify the resilience and stability of its socio-economic landscape.

Building upon the strong foundation laid by both parties, the relationship continues to extend beyond conventional cooperation and represents significant untapped potential across multiple domains, including but not limited to environmental initiatives, education and training, labor, agriculture, and healthcare. Numerous innovations are broadening the scope of collaboration, ushering in fresh opportunities for engagement in areas such as climate change mitigation, digital transformation, and energy reform.

Local foreign affairs initiatives play a significant role in executing the foreign policy directives of the Party and State of Vietnam. They ensure a cohesive approach across the political spectrum, harmoniously integrating Party, state and people’s diplomacy, fostering synergy and enhancing the efficiency of foreign affairs implementation within both provinces and centrally administered cities.

Within the realm of proactive international integration aimed at advancing the country’s socio-economic development, local foreign affairs endeavors are recognized as the “heart” of this process. These initiatives have played a crucial role in strengthening and efficiently leveraging Vietnam’s amicable and cooperative ties with global partners, expanding export markets, facilitating trade and investments, harnessing external support resources, and making tangible contributions to the socio-economic development objectives of both localities and the nation as a whole.

In this context, the ongoing cooperation between Vietnam and Australia retains its relevance and is poised to assume an even greater role beyond the 50-year milestone. Expanding existing horizons and progressing towards collaboration in various other domains of mutual benefit for both nations will only become more imperative.