The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently discussed securing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) during a recent visit to Vietnam in August 2019. This visit marks the first bilateral visit by an Australian Prime Minister to Vietnam in 25 years.
In an attempt to boost regional strategic and economic opportunities, the Australian government has officially announced effective 2 September 2019, Work and Holiday Maker visas will increase from 200 to 1500 places per year for Vietnamese people.
The visa requires first-time Vietnamese applicants to speak a functional level of English and either hold or be studying tertiary qualifications.
With this increase the government says that regional economies would benefit, particularly farmers and other regional businesses. Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham explained that "Work and holiday makers generally stay longer, spend more money in Australia and travel further into regional areas than most other international visitors, supporting Australian jobs in tourism and hospitality."
Australia and Vietnam are no strangers to FTA’s, both being part of ASEAN and TPP11 agreements. In 2018, the relationship between Australia and Vietnam elevated to a strategic partnership. Strengthening the relationships between the two would assist both countries through the US-China trade war and signals Australia politically aligning itself more closely with Vietnam and away from other Asian superpowers.
Currently, Vietnam is Australia’s 15th largest trading partner, with two-way trade in 2018 reaching $14.5 billion, with intentions of becoming a top-10 trade partner and potentially doubling investments between the two countries.