HANOI: India and Vietnam will work toward increasing two-way trade to $15 billion by 2020 from the current $14 billion and accelerate economic and investment cooperation.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday discussed with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc the robust bilateral engagement on political, defence, security and energy fronts.
Earlier he held delegation-level talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh and both agreed on the need to step up investment promotion activities, especially in information technology, energy, renewable energy, infrastructure, hi-tech agriculture, innovation, and oil and gas production.
The two leaders also agreed on the early launch of direct air routes linking the two countries’ big cities which would boost trade and tourism exchanges.
Private airline Indigo would start direct flights between India and Vietnam later this year.
On raising the trade value to $15 billion, they suggested detailed plans be made to carry out trade deals, dismantling barriers.
Bilateral trade stood at nearly $14 billion last year having nearly doubled from $7.8 billion three years ago.
Welcoming Naidu on his first visit to Vietnam, Thinh hailed the dynamic growth of the bilateral ties across the board, especially after the two countries established strategic partnership in 2007 and upgraded it to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2016.
They said the defence-security cooperation is efficient and practical and hailed the organization of the first maritime security dialogue in March this year and the visits of Indian naval and coast guard ships to Vietnam since early this year.
Thinh said Vietnam supports India’s “Act East” policy and welcomes its stance on the East Sea in the past.
She suggested that India continue backing the maintenance of order in the East Sea (South China Sea) by abiding by international law, respecting sovereignty, sovereign right, and territorial integrity, and ensuring navigation and overflight freedom, security and safety; and the settlement of disputes in the sea by peaceful means in conformity with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS).
Naidu called Vietnam a civilisational friend and rusted partner, a strategic pillar of India’s Act East Policy and India’s key interlocutor in ASEAN. The exchange of high level visits from boththe sides is a clear indication of the commitment of the two countries to further strengthen our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
The bilateral defence and security cooperation is robust, he said, and “we are committed to further strengthen it.”
India is providing extensive and sustained training support to Vietnamese Armed Forces and implementing the Line of Credit of $100 million for building high speed patrol vessels for Vietnamese Border Guards.
The two sides reviewed the implementation of the Line of Credit of $500 million for defence industry cooperation announced during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016.
Both the vice presidents stressed the importance of building a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
“We are both fully committed to an open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based regional architecture based on freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded economic activities and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the international law,” said Naidu.
Discussing regional and global issues of shared concern, they asserted that the two countries will continue working closely and supporting each other at regional and global multilateral forums, especially at the United Nations, as well as their run for a non-permanent member seat at the United Nations Security Council, for Vietnam in the 2020-2021 tenure and for India in the 2021-2022 tenure.
They sought to speed up cooperation in training, and science-technology while showing their support for locality-to-locality partnership and youth exchange programmes.
Naidu said the two countries worked closely to implement projects to preserve the world cultural heritage My Son in Vietnam’s central province of Quang Nam and assist the Cham ethnic people in the southern province of Ninh Thuan.