Addressing the event, Nguyen Van Manh, Vice President of the HCM City Union of Friendship Associations (HUFO), congratulated the Australian people on the special occasion, stating that that the position of Australia within the international arena has been unceasingly affirmed and enhanced. Since the two countries first established diplomatic relations 45 years ago, and especially through signing the comprehensive partnership in September 2009, the Australia-Vietnam friendship and cooperation have been comprehensively strengthened and fostered across various fields, he said. Two-way trade reports an annual 12.5% growth and reached more than US$9 billion in 2017. To date, Australia has deployed 378 projects in Vietnam with a total investment capital of US$1.7 billion, focusing on the areas of industry, construction, service, education, and the agro-forestry and fishery processing industry. Delegates pose for a photo at the get-together. For her part, Karen Lanyon, Australian Consul-General in HCM City, hailed Vietnam as one of Australia’s most important and valuable partners in the Asia-Pacific region, whilst affirming that the long-standing history of successful trade cooperation between the two sides will continue in the future, thus creating significant trade opportunities and bringing the two economies closer together. She attributed the strong and diverse relationship between Vietnam and Australia partially to the close people-to-people exchanges and connections. More than 320,000 Australians arrived in Vietnam, mostly in HCM City, in 2017, Lanyon said, adding that the Vietnamese community has also been highly appreciated in Australia and has actively contributed to fostering the relationship.