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India, Vietnam seek to double bilateral trade

The Vietnamese PM's forthcoming visit to India aims at doubling bilateral trade to $2 bn, reports Madhur Singh.

business Updated: Jul 02, 2007 21:08 IST
Madhur Singh

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s forthcoming visit to India will be aimed at doubling bilateral trade to $2 billion in the next three years, with a view to reducing the trade deficit that is hugely in India’s favour.

Briefing reporters on the three-day visit starting on Wednesday, Vietnamese ambassador Vu Quang Diem said a 186-strong delegation, including 80 businesspersons, would accompany the leader. They will hold meetings with business and industry leaders in Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.

Besides 15 ministers, the delegation will include six provincial leaders who will explore opportunities for regional cooperation, especially with West Bengal and the northeastern states. “Talks are on regarding setting up of footwear and plastic factories in various Indian states,” Diem said.

Seeking greater Indian investment in Vietnam will also be high on the agenda. Recent multi-million dollar investments by the Tata and Essar groups have propelled India to the tenth rank among the highest investors in Vietnam, and the country is the largest recipient of Indian foreign direct investment (FDI) among all nations of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) group..

There will be a separate meeting between visiting information technology and IT-enabled service entrepreneurs and their Indian counterparts, and possibilities of collaboration with Indian IT majors like NIIT, Satyam and Wipro will be explored.

The Vietnamese delegation will also seek collaboration with Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Reliance, ONGC Videsh Ltd and the Essar Group. In particular, Vietnam is keen on Indian investment in the energy sector.

“Indian companies are welcome to produce energy in Vietnam, whether using oil, gas or coal,” the ambassador said. However, he said, no agreement has yet been reached on extending lines of credit to Vietnam to support the entry of Indian energy companies there.

The two governments will sign several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and agreements on shipping, mutual assistance in legal matters, cooperation in agriculture and fisheries, and cultural exchanges. A much-needed agreement on direct air links, however, remains elusive.

Diem said Vietnam is keen to see that the India-Asean Free Trade Agreement is concluded by the end of this year. “We will continue to make efforts to this end bilaterally and multilaterally,” he said.