The Hon Martin Pakula MP - travel report - Vietnam and Singapore, 23 - 28 April 2019

MinisterThe Hon Martin Pakula MP

Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events
Minister for Racing 

Countries visitedVietnam and Singapore
Date of travel23 to 28 April 2019
No. of official travel days
(including day of departure and day of return)
Number of accompanying ministerial staff1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacityNo
Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency)Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Air fares (including taxes and fees)$12,890*
Accommodation (including taxes and fees)$6,078*
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances)$6,561*
Travel cost for minister and staff$25,529*

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

The key purpose of my travel to Vietnam was to promote food and fibre and international education linkages between Victoria and Vietnam. This involved leading a Victorian Government trade mission of Victorian food and fibre companies to Food and Hotel Vietnam and to promote Victoria's world-class international education sector through a series of targeted engagements.

As part of my visit, I also attended an important working dinner with the Vingroup to discuss commercial, education and major event opportunities relating to Vingroup sub entities - Vinuni, Vincommerce, Vietnam Grand Prix Corp and Vintech.

I also travelled to Singapore to strengthen bilateral relationships and promote Victorian investment opportunities. This included meeting with the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office where we discussed mutual collaboration, particularly in the digitalisation of services in Singapore.

In addition to education and food and fibre, the trip also covered key components of my portfolio priorities including innovation, tourism and major events.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

Victoria was the only Australian state represented at Food and Hotel Vietnam, one of Vietnam's largest trade shows. I was delighted to lead this mission of 22 Victorian businesses to access export opportunities in the meat, dairy, fruit and cereals industries.

The food and fibre sector is an important economic driver for Victoria, contributing 5.9 per cent to Victoria's Gross State Product in 2017-18 and supporting 238,000 jobs in agriculture production and food and fibre manufacturing. Victoria exports more food and fibre than any other Australian state. In 2017-18 the sector generated $14.1 billion in exports, an increase of 11 per cent over the previous year.

To date, five Victorian firms have already secured sales as a result of the Food and Hotel Vietnam Mission. Additionally, a Victorian dairy firm, ViPlus, have secured an in-market partner and officially launched their product and partnership in Ho Chi Minh City on 5 June 2019. Other participating firms continue to develop opportunities from the mission and I am working with the department to ensure assistance is available to maximise outcomes. Through my involvement in the mission, I was also able to promote the Global Table conference which is occurring in September 2019 and secure attendance of key organisations in this program.

Based on the evaluations received to date from participating Victorian companies, immediate outcomes have been valued at $3,223,000.00. This figure will continue to rise over coming months with export sales traditionally taking 12-24 months to be fully realised post mission.

Vietnam is a critical market for Victorian education exports and engagement. In 2018, Victoria attracted around 227,000 students from 170 countries, with Vietnam being Victoria's fourth largest market for international students. During my official travel, I was able to meet with key universities and institutes in Vietnam including Swinburne, Monash, RMIT, Box Hill and Chisholm and also engaged with key alumni. A particular highlight was my meeting with Know One, Teach One (KOTO) which has a partnership with Box Hill Institute. KOTO was founded in 1999 by Jimmy Pham, a Vietnamese-Australian, and provides positive change to the lives of street and disadvantaged youth. It was pleasing to discuss this collaboration and explore opportunities to ensure the relationship continues to thrive.

I also launched an important educational collaboration between Swinburne University and FPT University. It gave me great pleasure to speak at the event and witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between both institutions.

Through the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, Swinburne courses in information and communication technology, innovation and entrepreneurship will be accessible to FPT students. It is also pleasing that the partnership will increase student mobility between Melbourne and Vietnam including the opportunity for Swinburne students to undertake short term studies or internships in Vietnam.

In Ho Chi Minh City, I was briefed on the relationship between the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA) and Chisholm Institute. I also had the opportunity to visit Ho Chi Minh Vocational College and see and experience first-hand the training of Vietnamese students by teachers who have studied in Victoria.

While in Hanoi, I attended a working dinner with Vingroup, which is not only delivering the Hanoi Grand Prix in 2020 but is also a large conglomerate with business activity focused on commerce and retail, R&D, education and other sectors. Monash University also attended in order to connect with Vinuni in relation to potential scholarships. We are also encouraging the opportunity for RMIT University, which is the education partner to the Australian Grand Prix, to engage with the Hanoi Grand Prix in the same manner. The working dinner with Vingroup provided me with an opportunity to discuss fantastic connections beyond the Grand Prix, including in areas such as research and development, food and fibre and education and training.  

I took part in a business briefing with the Australian Chamber of Commerce (AusCham) in Vietnam with the purpose of gaining an understanding of the Vietnamese economy from a non-diplomatic viewpoint. From this, I have gained knowledge of the economic opportunities for Victorian business in Northern Vietnam and the government policy which affects business conditions. The Victorian State Government acknowledges the work that AusCham does in promoting Australian businesses in Vietnam and I value our ongoing relationship.

Vietnam is of critical importance to the State of Victoria. I am eager to engage more with the country, so it's fantastic to have made a connection with key stakeholders to discuss various opportunities for ongoing collaboration. There is also a strong focus on developing a thoroughbred horse racing industry in Vietnam. The Victorian breeding industry is a significant provider of high-quality thoroughbred bloodstock domestically and internationally. We are actively seeking to discuss further opportunities to provide assistance through our world leading racing and breeding industries.

While in Singapore, I met with the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office in Singapore. The office is the government agency responsible for the implementation of digital transformation across six priority sectors; Strategic National Projects, Urban Living, Transport, Health, Digital Government Services, and Startups and Businesses.

I also made a visit to the REWILD exhibition which included understanding the involvement of Phoria (a Victorian based company) in the partnership and exhibition. The exhibition provided a powerful demonstration of our impact on the earth and I trust that it will inspire many people to understand the role we can all play in creating change.  

Next Steps / Follow Up

The department and the Southeast Asia Victorian Government Trade and Investment team will work with the Victorian companies which participated in the Food and Hotel Vietnam trade mission to ensure that they are best positioned to capitalise on their involvement in the mission and secure key opportunities.

The connections established through my visit have enabled the department to secure the attendance of significant food and beverage importers and buyers at the upcoming Global Table conference in September 2019.

International education remains Victoria's largest single export and the department will continue to foster linkages with Vietnam, including with key universities and institutes such as Swinburne University, RMIT, Box Hill Institute and Chisolm Institute.

Vietnam remains a key market for Victoria as an emerging economy in the region of Southeast Asia. The department and I will continue to engage with the market and key stakeholders in a deliberate manner to maximise opportunities and connections for Victorian businesses. This involves building on connections and momentum established through the visit including greater collaboration with AusCham Vietnam and the Vingroup conglomerate.

Singapore remains a key market for inward investment and Victoria will continue to target opportunities. Singapore also has world leading technology, including in artificial intelligence as well as digital service delivery which Victoria can better leverage, which is critical given my responsibility for innovation.

Page last updated: 25 July 2019