The landmark visit of Chairman of Vietnam National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue to New Delhi has propelled Delhi-Hanoi ties to a higher trajectory and set the tone for celebrations of the golden jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Vietnam in 2022.
During the speaker’s visit, the two sides signed an array of agreements in diverse areas and resolved to intensify engagement across the spectrum.
“While the world continues to undergo constant changes, the Viet Nam-India ties have remained the same, loyal and sincere,” said Mr Hue at a ceremony held to mark the 5th anniversary of the establishment of strategic partnership between India and Vietnam on December 17. In his big-picture speech at the Indian Council of World Affairs(ICWA), India’s premier think tank, Mr Hue provided an overview of all-round progress in bilateral ties across five primary pillars: politics and diplomacy, defense and security, economic and trade, science and technology, education, training, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
“In particular, over the last 5 years, there were seven high-level visits between the two countries. This is the highest frequency of visits from Viet Nam to any other country. These high-level visits not only serve as the foundation and driver for the implementation of signed cooperation agreements, but also contribute to strengthening political trust between the two countries,” he said.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who shared the stage with the Vietnamese speaker, could not agree more with the former’s buoyant vision of the India-Vietnam partnership. “What has been heartening to note is that neither side has ever stopped working to take ties to a higher level. On the contrary, this is a relationship that is continually work in progress,” he said. Alluding to the ‘Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People’ unveiled by the prime ministers of the two countries at their Virtual Summit a year ago, Mr Jaishankar spoke about future cooperation, which will be driven by the promise of new technologies, by innovation, and by digitization to deliver good governance, people’s empowerment, and sustainable and inclusive development.
During the visit of the Vietnamese top legislator, three MOUs were signed on Parliamentary cooperation, Information & Technology and Marine sciences. Two letters of intent were concluded in the domain of posts and digital media. Reflecting the upward curve in economic ties, 12 business MOUs were signed between enterprises of the two countries.
Bilateral trade turnover has increased from 5.5 billion USD to 11.2 billion USD in 2021. “Despite the hardships caused by COVID-19, in the first 10 months of 2021, our trade turnover totaled 11 billion USD, a year-over-year growth of around 40%,” said the Speaker. Mr Hue also addressed the “Vietnam India Business Forum” and exhorted Indian companies to scale up their investment in Vietnam.
Looking to the future, Mr Hue, also a member of the Politburo of the 13th Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee (CPVCC), said that “cooperation in science and technology has been, and will continue to be a fresh impetus for our two countries.” Her identified civil nuclear energy, IT, and digital transformation as India’s areas of strength. “Viet Nam attaches great importance to such fields, and will continue to promote concrete cooperation plans in these areas,” he said. The economic and development partnership will continue be animated by India’s goal to become a US$5 trillion economy by 2024 and Vietnam’s ambition to become a high-income economy by 2045.
Vietnamese top legislator also highlighted anti-pandemic collaboration between the two countries. “The pandemic bears more vivid testament to our time-honored tradition of mutual support in times of need. When India was suffering from COVID-19, Viet Nam immediately transferred hundreds of oxygen concentrators to your country. And when Viet Nam was facing hardships, India deployed its naval ship to bring liquid oxygen to Viet Nam. We will forever remember this gesture.”
The Speaker’s visit has provided a boost of parliamentary diplomacy between the two countries. During his visit to India, Mr Hue called on Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Speaker and Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu. Mr Birla conveyed to Vietnamese top legislator that that India wants to further strengthen the India-Vietnam Parliamentary Diplomacy. He said that for this purpose, the Indian Parliament is forming an India-Vietnam Friendship Group so that representatives of both the Parliaments could give a new dimension to the Parliamentary relations between the two countries through sustained and mutual dialogue.
During his meeting with Vice President Naidu, the two spoke highly of the cooperation between the legislative bodies of the two countries. They agreed to maintain all-level mutual visits between the Vietnamese and Indian states, governments, parliaments, parties, localities, and people. They also agreed to organise “meaningful and practical activities” to mark the 50th founding anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2022.
A Global Partnership
Going forward, India and Vietnam will also intensify their collaboration and coordination on regional and global issues. Dr Jaishankar placed the burgeoning India-Vietnam relations in the context of India’s Act East Policy. “From the Indian perspective, Vietnam is a key partner both in the ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific context. We already have a substantial agenda underway whether it is in commerce, connectivity or culture,” he said. Our political and defence cooperation has also been steadily growing. “These can be further buttressed by interaction between the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative that has been proposed by India.”
“At a time of global uncertainty and post-Covid economic recovery, the India-Vietnam partnership will be a significant stabilizing factor in the Indo-Pacific. Keeping our national ambitions and global responsibilities in mind, we must forge ahead,” he said.
(Manish Chand is Founder-CEO of India Writes Network, India and the World magazine and Centre for Global India Insights, a think tank focused on global affairs.)
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) 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.
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