Hanoi (VNA) – Economic partnerships are one of the highlights in Vietnam – Austria relations, and both have shown their determination to strongly advance these ties.

The two countries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties this year (December 1, 1972 – 2022). Austria was one of the first Western countries to set up diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

In a recent interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency, Austrian Ambassador to Vietnam Hans-Peter Glanzer said over the last 50 years, Vietnam and Austria have developed excellent relations in a broad spectrum of sectors, and that these relations are based on mutual respect and a sincere wish to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation.

He described the economic field as a prime example for the remarkable development of bilateral relations.

Statistics of Vietnam show that over the past years, the two countries have recorded considerable strides in economic and trade connections. Bilateral trade approximated 3.5 billion USD in 2021, and Austria is currently one of the 10 largest trading partners of Vietnam in the European Union (EU).

Containers of goods at a terminal of Hai Phong Port. Trade between Vietnam and Austria approximated 3.5 billion USD in 2021. (Photo: VNA)

Bright prospects for economic partnerships

“The mentioned positive trend of economic relations and in particular the trade part has been further strengthened by Vietnam’s free trade agreement with the European Union (EVFTA). The opening of an office of the Commercial Section of the Austrian Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City in 2019 was a further step to promote our trade and investment relations,” Ambassador Glanzer said in the interview.

Currently, around 50 Austrian companies have branches in Vietnam, yet there is still room for more Austrian investment in Vietnam, he noted. “We see prospects of increased cooperation in areas such as environmental technology, (renewable) energy, vocational training, tourism, agriculture, sustainable – in particular urban – transport solutions, and healthcare infrastructure.”

He said that at the last meeting of the Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation which took place at the vice ministerial level in Vienna in last June, both sides agreed that economic cooperation needs to be enhanced.

A wind and solar power project in the central province of Ninh Thuan. Renewable energy is viewed as a potential area for Vietnam – Austria economic cooperation. (Photo: VNA)

The diplomat also highlighted the great potential in new areas such as renewable energy, green finance and environmental protection, adding that Austrian companies have a lot to offer, for example in the field of renewable energy.

Meanwhile, regarding a recent visit to Vietnam by a delegation of enterprises from Styria – the second biggest in terms of area and the fourth populous state of Austria, an article published on the European country’s Kronen Zeitung newspaper said the Vietnamese economy is booming with the presence of more and more foreign firms and investors, which is a trend that companies in Styria do not want to miss.

It quoted Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Minister for Economy, Tourism, Europe, Science and Research at the Government of Styria, as saying that there are ample opportunities for Austrian firms to invest in Vietnam in energy technology and environment, design and construction, as well as green technology.

The Kronen Zeitung newspaper covers a visit to Vietnam by a delegation of businesses from the Austrian state of Styria. (Source: VNA)

Chief Executive of the Internationalisation Centre Styria Robert Brugger said after a two-year closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the right time for Styria to rise again as Vietnam has also returned to its growth trajectory in a spectacular way. He quoted experts as saying that Vietnam’s economy can grow by 7% annually, and Austrian businesses want to seek opportunities there.

According to the writing, Vietnam’s industry is growing strongly with the emergence of new factories, especially those in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, the potential of cooperation related to infrastructure and environment solutions is huge.

So far, a number of Austrian firms are doing well in Vietnam, namely equipment manufacturer Andritz, power train system developer EVL List, steel maker Voestalpine, among others.

Kronen Zeitung newspaper quoted data from the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) as showing that in 2021, Styria exported 28 million EUR (27.6 million USD) worth of goods to Vietnam while spending 147 million EUR on imports from the latter.

At a seminar recently held by the WKO in Vienna, WKO Regional Manager for Asia Christina-Maria Schösser hailed Vietnam as a fast and stably growing economy that boasts favourable conditions for Austrian firms, saying over the past years, Vietnam has become the third biggest Asian importer of Austria and a promising market for Austrian projects, the article noted.

A wood processing factory in Tan Uyen town of the southern province of Binh Duong. Wood products are among the Vietnamese goods exported to Austria. (Photo: VNA)

Determination to turn potential into reality

With such enormous potential, both countries have expressed their willingness to push up bilateral economic partnerships as seen in recent mutual visits.

In his working visit to Austria from October 15 to 17, Nguyen Trong Nghia, member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat and Chairman of its Commission for Information and Education, had meetings with Harald Troch, deputy head of the Human Rights Committee of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Austrian Parliament, and Maria Maltschnig, secretary in charge of international relations of the Social Democratic Party of Austria.

Nguyen Trong Nghia (third from left), Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee and Chairman of the committee’s Commission for Information and Education, at a meeting with Harald Troch (third from right), deputy head of the Human Rights Committee of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Austrian Parliament, and Maria Maltschnig (second from right), secretary in charge of international relations of the Social Democratic Party of Austria. The meeting is part of Nghia’s visit to Austria from October 15 to 17, 2022. (Photo: VNA)

The Austrian officials highlighted Vietnam’s position and role, describing the country as an important partner of their country in the Asia-Pacific region. They also agreed to coordinate with Vietnam to effectively implement the EVFTA and promote the Austrian Parliament’s ratification of the EU – Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA).

During his official visit to the EU country on September 28 – 29, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son paid a courtesy call to President of the National Council of Austria Wolfgang Sobotka, held talks with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg, and met with Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs Martin Kocher and Minister for the EU and Constitution at the Federal Chancellery of Austria Karoline Edtstadler.

The two sides noted with satisfaction that thanks to the EVFTA, trade and investment have become a bright spot in the Vietnam – Austria ties, with bilateral trade reaching 3.35 billion USD, up nearly 14% from 2020.

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (left) meets with President of the National Council of Austria Wolfgang Sobotka in Vienna in late September 2022. (Photo: VNA)

They agreed to keep close coordination to seize opportunities created by the EVFTA and create conditions for their countries’ exports to access each other’s markets.       

The Austrian side took note for consideration the Vietnamese Foreign Minister’s proposal that the Austrian Parliament early ratify the EVIPA and the Austrian Government support the early removal of the EU’s yellow card warning regarding illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing for Vietnam’s seafood.

Minister Son and his hosts also discussed the possibility of expanding cooperation to new fields such as green finance, renewable energy, and environmental protection.

Over the past years, policies issued by the two Governments have facilitated substantive and fruitful cooperation between the countries’ businesses and as a result, bilateral economic links have been growing unceasingly, Son told the Vietnam – Austria business forum held in Vienna in late September.

The Vietnam – Austria business forum in Vienna in late September 2022 (Photo: VNA)

He called on Vietnamese and Austrian enterprises to tighten connections in the fields matching their strength and potential such as high technology, clean energy, climate change response, vocational training, digital transformation, pharmaceuticals, tourism, and farm produce trading.

Also at this forum, WKO Regional Manager for Asia Christina-Maria Schösser noted Austrian enterprises are mainly small- and medium-sized ones but strong at the areas Vietnam has demand for, especially high technology and innovation. The WKO hopes that businesses of the two countries will have more opportunities to cooperate in the future, she added.

In mid-October, a delegation of enterprises from the Austrian state of Styria visited Vietnam to learn more about business opportunities in the Southeast Asian country.

Talking to Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Manh Quyen in the capital city on October 17, Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Minister for Economy, Tourism, Europe, Science and Research at the Government of Styria, said many Austrian companies have been cooperating successfully with Vietnamese partners, and that she hopes the two sides will keep working together in the fields of green energy, circular economy, education, environmental technology, and waste treatment.

At the meeting, representatives of some Austrian enterprises shared information to seek partnerships with Hanoi firms.

Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Vo Van Hoan ( front, fourth from left), Barbara Eibinger-Miedl (front, fourth from right) – Regional Minister for Economy, Tourism, Europe, Science and Research at the State Government of Styria, and other officials pose for a photo in the Vietnamese city on October 19, 2022. (Photo: VNA)

Receiving the Styria delegation on October 19, Vice Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Vo Van Hoan stated the southern metropolis welcomes and is ready to create optimal conditions for Styria enterprises to explore chances and promote investment, especially in the hi-tech industrial park that will be opened soon.

Eibinger-Miedl underlined that Styria wishes to foster ties with HCM City in the areas of common concern like green technology, smart city building, and circular economy development, and to bolster coordination to translate cooperation potential into concrete projects in the future./.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Thuy