Kolkata: “Vietnam and India have chosen the ‘middle way’ of peace, stability and dialogue, the path of Buddha,” said Ambassador of Vietnam to India Pham Sanh Chau.
Notably, Vietnam and India were among the 35 nations that abstained from UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations.
Chau stressed that Vietnam looks towards India for cooperation in areas like defence and peaceful use of nuclear technology.
“Only India can help Vietnam in sensitive areas like defence and nuclear technology for peaceful use…they don’t share such technologies,” he said.
Last month, India and Vietnam complimented each other on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong had, during their telephonic conversation, expressed satisfaction over the rapid pace of a wide range of cooperation under the India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which was established during Modi’s visit to Vietnam in 2016.
Apart from bilateral and regional issues, including Ukraine and the situation in the South China Sea, both leaders agreed to promote closer cooperation in economic, trade, and defence engagements.
Iterating the strong ties, Chau said the top four leaders of India, including President Ramnath Kovind, Prime Minister Modi, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla have visited the southeast nation.
Chairman of Vietnam National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue, along with a high-level parliamentary delegation visited India last December and all the top leaders of the ASEAN country have also come to India from time to time.
Chau said bilateral trade between India and Vietnam is expected to reach $15 billion by 2022 or 2023 from $13.2 billion in 2021.
He noted that Vietnamese exports to India have increased and the its earlier trade deficit has been balanced with both countries now having an almost equal share in bilateral trade.
With a population of 98.15 million people, the highest among the ASEAN nations, Vietnam offers a great opportunity for the Indian pharma sector for further expansion, he said.
Indian companies have scope for investment in areas like textile and garments, IT, real estate, agricultural products, solar technology, education, electrical and electronic technology equipment, healthcare and general trading, according to a presentation given during the session.
With labour cost as low as $3 per hour and 95 percent literacy, Vietnam has the potential to be the biggest manufacturing hub, replacing China where the labour cost is $6-$7 per hour.
Indian companies — Tata Coffee, Bank of India, ONGC Videsh, Godrej, HCL Technologies, Wipro, Marico, Tech Mahindra are already operating in Vietnam, while two new Indian startups — self-drive car rental company Zoomcar and online higher education company UpGrad have also entered Vietnam’s market.
Due to the country’s small size and long coastline, ports are accessible from all industrial parks approximately within half an hour. Further, Vietnam’s close proximity to other ASEAN countries makes it suitable as an export hub, it was noted.
Post the Doi Moi Reforms in 1986, Vietnam has turned into an open economy, said Do Duy Khanh, First Secretary-Trade Office, Embassy of Vietnam.
Vietnam has an FTA with 15 countries and is part of RCEP with other 14 countries.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP is a regional trading agreement between ASEAN members and countries with which they have free trade agreements (FTAs). Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are its members.
India though a part of the initial negotiations had opted out of joining the bloc.