India-Vietnam business bonding: President Kovind’s visit opens new vistas

HANOI: Dovetailing their ongoing transformation, India and Vietnam have raised the bar for their economic partnership, with President Ram Nath Kovind and business leaders of the two countries unveiling new possibilities for collaboration in the 4th Industrial Revolution, renewable energy and start-ups.

Technology, enterprise and innovation have become the new trinity that will guide the future of India-Vietnam economic partnership.

The India-Vietnam Business Forum, held in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on November 19, saw a surge of enthusiasm and energy among the business community of the two countries who spoke in unison about their confidence in achieving the target of $15 billion by 2020. The CII, India’s top industry body, has brought in a 60+plus delegation of leading businessmen and investors to Hanoi, led by eminent industrialist Shiv Khemka, Vice-Chairman, Sun Group. India-Vietnam trade is currently around $12.8 billion. India is the second largest destination for Indian exports in Vietnam, after Singapore. Vietnam is India’s fourth largest trading partner in ASEAN.

“On the trade front, we are doing well. We are on track to achieve our target of 15 billion US dollars bilateral trade by the year 2020. Vietnam is a very important trading partner of India in ASEAN and India is now among the top ten trading partners of Vietnam,” President Kovind said at the India-Vietnam Business Forum.

Raising the bar, President Kovind exhorted the business community not to bask in complacency, but to push the envelope: “Vietnam-India economic relations are on a steady path. We have made significant achievement no doubt, but a lot more is waiting to happen.””

“The energy and enthusiasm in this room, in this city and in this country are an indication of the opportunities before us. I invite Indian and Vietnamese businesses to partner with each other for trade, technology and investment collaboration,” he said.

The president lavished praise on Vietnam’s spectacular economic growth and the country’s laudable success in reducing poverty and expanding opportunities for common people.

Focus areas

Underlining emerging economic synergies, President Kovind also updated the Vietnamese business community about the pathbreaking economic reforms and financial inclusion schemes launched by the Indian government.

The president identified smart agriculture, pharmaceuticals, medical & wellness tourism,  IT services, fintech and digital economy as focus areas for advancing India-Vietnam relations.

“With matching growth and lucrative business prospects on both sides, there is little convincing to be done. All of you are sitting in the middle of manifold possibilities. Indian growth presents opportunities for two-way engagement in financial services, IT, digital economy, hydo-carbons, defence, renewable energy, mining, health-care, tourism and civil aviation sectors.”

“We want Vietnam to collaborate with us in our flagship programmes – Make In India, Clean India, Start-up India and Digital India. We are also keen to learn from it in the tourism and urban infrastructure sectors,” he said.

Renewable energy is set to emerge as the next frontier in India-Vietnam economic relationship. “Likewise, there are significant opportunities in the oil and gas, power, infrastructure and renewable energy sectors. In India, we have set a target to reach solar and wind energy generation capacity of 175 Gigawatt by 2022. With their global and cutting edge-expertise and experience, Indian renewable majors are ready to partner Vietnam,” said Mr Kovind.

Start-ups, the next frontier  

Going forward, partnering in innovation and start-ups hold the key to the future of India-Vietnam economic relationships.

“We must encourage our start-up sectors and innovation-based industry to leverage each other. The Indian start-up eco-system ranks third globally. This year has been particularly successful for us, with over 1200 tech-startups taking wings.”

“We must also learn from each other on how to improve productivity; how to approach the Fourth Industrial Revolution; how to promote innovation and entrepreneurship; and not the least, how to leverage technology for governance,” he said.

Vietnam upbeat on India Opportunity

Vietnam, on its part, struck an upbeat note on the India opportunity.

“India is a key player in our foreign policy and development goals. India and Vietnam should step up air and maritime connectivity and expand people-to-people contacts,” said Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Ding Dung. He pitched for greater Indian investment in areas such as infrastructure, ICT, green agriculture and renewable energy. The deputy prime minister also pushed for joint ventures in the area of renewable energy, in which India has shown redoubtable leadership and expertise. He also spoke of new opportunities for partnership between India and Vietnam, generated by the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Vietnam success story

Showcasing the pathbreaking economic resurgence of Vietnam, Mr Trinh Ding Dung projected a robustly optimistic picture of Vietnam’s economic growth. He expressed confidence that Vietnam’s GDP will grow from around $250 billion to $300-320 billion by 2020. He invited Indian investors of cash in on new opportunities offered by Vietnam’s rapidly expanding middle class and increasing purchasing power of its people. Vietnam’s per capita income is set to increase to $3200-3500 by 2020.

Blending Act East with business

Looking ahead, Mr Khemka stressed on deepening the economic dimension of India’s Act East policy and pitched for more robust trade and investment between India and Vietnam.

“Vietnam and India can learn and grow from each other’s experience. It’s important to increase investment in each other’s country,” he said. He made a compelling case for promoting direct sea routes and shipping cooperation to enhance bilateral trade. Underscoring transformative economic partnership between India and Vietnam, Mr Khemka stressed that achieving $15 billion trade target is quite achievable and doable.

(Manish Chand, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network and  India and World, is currently in Hanoi to report  on and analyse India’s President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to Vietnam)

Author Profile

Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network ( and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.