By Shweta Aggarwal
Amid the pandemic, India has managed to sustain high-level engagement with Vietnam which reaffirms Hanoi’s status as a key pillar of New Delhi’s ‘Act East Policy’ and an essential partner in the ‘Indo-Pacific initiative.’
“Vietnam is a key pillar of India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and is an essential partner in India’s ‘Indo-Pacific initiative’ based on the shared value and interest in promoting stability, peace, and prosperity of the region,” said Riva Ganguly Das, Secretary (East) in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, at at the India-Vietnam Business Forum held this week.
In her keynote address, Ms Das highlighted that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, both countries have continued to maintain their high-level engagements. Pandemic has not dampened ardour of the two countries to sustain economic and strategic engagement. Vietnam’s Vice President Madam Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh visited India in February this year. In April, PM Modi spoke with his counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc on telephone not only to exchange views on the pandemic but also to discuss the future trajectory of bilateral relations.
Looking ahead, Ms Das raised the bar for bilateral trade and investment. “Our bilateral trade turnover is still not commensurate with the levels of our economic development. And therefore, we need to do more to broaden and intensify our trade relations to achieve its full potential,” she said.
The online forum saw participation of Vo Tan Thanh, Vice President and Director General of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
Mrs. Tran Thi Hai Yen, Director of Investment Promotion Centre for Southern Vietnam, Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam, Vietnam’s Ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau and India’s Ambassador to Vietnam Pranay Verma.
India-Vietnam trade rose to $12.34 billion in 2019-20 from a meager $200 million in 2000, which reaffirms their growing collaborations and investments.
Diary, pharmaceuticals, and steel products topped the export basket from India, while imports from Vietnam included mobile phones, electronic hardware, computers, electrical machinery, rubber, chemical, and coffee, etc., she said at the virtual summit co-organized by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and India Chamber of Commerce on October 20, 2020.
According to Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Agency, India also has around 278 projects worth $887 million in Vietnam. However, the bilateral trade still needs improvement and that calls for more work, Ms Das said. “Our trade turnover is still not commensurate with the levels of our economic development. And therefore, we need to do more to broaden and intensify our trade relations to achieve its full potential,” she added.
Vietnam is India’s 18th largest trading partner globally and 4th largest in the ASEAN region after Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, while India is Vietnam’s 7th largest trading partner.
India’s investments are focused in the sectors of energy, mineral exploration, agro-processing, sugar, tea, coffee manufacturing, agrochemicals, IT, and auto-components. Vietnam’s investment in India is around $28.55 million, mainly in pharmaceuticals, IT, chemicals, and construction materials.
Over the years, India-Vietnam relations have scaled new frontiers and blossomed into a comprehensive strategic partnership that spans a diverse spectrum of areas such as energy, defense and security cooperation, political and cultural engagement, economic partnership, and people-to-people contacts. “Our leadership has envisioned closer collaboration in the areas of trade, tourism and technology,” said Ms Das.
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