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Wednesday, 18 March 1987
Page: 879


Senator FOREMAN —I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs to an article on the front page of yesterday's Australian Financial Review entitled `Awakening Vietnam looks to Australia for trade'. In that article it was reported that Vietnam is considering the expansion of its trade to increase production and relieve abject poverty. Such developments seem to follow on the heels of reforms in Vietnam and reforms in Vietnam's chief ally, the Soviet Union. Will the Minister state whether or not the Government sees these steps as positive, and whether or not Australia would support Vietnamese moves to trade more widely and generally be more responsive to the international trading community?


Senator GARETH EVANS —The Government has been encouraged by recent signs that Vietnam is seriously addressing the question of economic reform, including the broadening of international trade, in an endeavour to increase the economic welfare and well-being of its people. The Australian Government is committed to developing a more normal and comprehensive relationship with Vietnam. We believe that it is not in the interests of Australia or our region that Vietnam should be isolated. We believe that the development of our own bilateral relationship with Vietnam serves to encourage Vietnam to play its full and responsible role as a member of the regional and international community.

Australia's links with Vietnam have expanded over recent years in a number of areas, including trade. It is clearly in the interests of Australia, the region and Vietnam itself that Vietnam be encouraged to trade more widely. The Australian Government, therefore welcomes the initiative taken by Vietnam to trade more widely and, in particular, to develop two-way trade with Australia. Consistent with normal international trading practice, the Australian Government is prepared to consider ways of assisting that process.