India, Vietnam to strengthen economic, defence cooperation

07 March 2018

India and Vietnam have agreed on enhancing an already strong trade and economic engagement as a strategic objective and a core element of their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which is essential for strengthening bilateral ties.

A meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang on Tuesday decided to explore substantive and practical measures to increase bilateral trade volume and diversify its composition so as to achieve the trade target of $15 billion by 2020, Both sides agreed to hold the next meeting of the Joint Sub-Commission on Trade in Hanoi in 2018 at the earliest.

Both countries urged leaders of business and industry to explore new trade and investment opportunities in identified priority areas of cooperation, including hydrocarbons, power generation, renewable energy, energy, conservation, infrastructure, textiles, footwear, pharmaceuticals, machine tools, agriculture and agro-products, tourism, chemicals, ICT and other service sector industries.

The two sides agreed to intensify cooperation to increase productivity, quantum and content of science and technology in agricultural products.

Prime Minister Modi welcomed Vietnamese companies to avail of the favourable investment climate in India under the Make in India programme while President Tran Dai Quang welcomed Indian companies to invest in Vietnam and affirmed Vietnam's commitment to create favourable conditions and facilitation for Indian investments in accordance with Vietnamese laws.

President Tran Dai Quang highly appreciated India's long standing and continued grants-in-aid and lines of credit for Vietnam. He thanked India for increasing scholarships to Vietnamese students, researchers, academic professionals and government officials, especially through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) framework, as well as the projects under the fund of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) etc.

Prime Minister Modi offered to organise customised courses in areas of interest to Vietnam through the ITEC programme. President Tran Dai Quang appreciated Modi's announcement at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in January 2018 of undertaking a pilot project on rural connectivity in the CLMV countries which would create digital villages and for offering 1,000 fellowships to students and researchers from the ASEAN member states for studying integrated PhD programmes in Indian Institutes of Technology.

The two countries noted the remarkable progress made in joint exploration of oil and gas and in thermal and hydroelectric power and renewable energy and energy conservation. President Tran Dai Quang welcomed Indian businesses to expand their oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities on land and in the continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Viet Nam and to this effect suggested that relevant Indian companies file concrete proposals for the blocks offered by the Vietnamese side. Both sides agreed to actively pursue the signing of a memorandum of understanding on collaboration in oil and gas exploration projects in third countries. The Vietnamese side also welcomed Indian oil and gas companies to avail of opportunities in the midstream and downstream sectors in Vietnam.

President Tran Dai Quang welcomed Indian companies to invest in renewable energy and energy conservation projects in Vietnam and thanked India for extending support to Vietnam in building a research reactor for the purpose of peaceful uses of atomic energy.

The Vietnamese side took note of the request by the Indian side on actively considering signing the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance with a view to strengthening the cooperation in the renewable energy space.

The two sides signed a memorandum of  understanding (MoU) on Economic and Trade Cooperation aimed at establishing a framework for enhancing economic and trade promotion.

The two sides also agreed on a work plan for cooperation between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and ministry of agriculture and rural development of Vietnam for promotion of cooperation in transfer of technology and exchange of visits of technical experts in the fields of agriculture and allied fields for the years 2018-2022.

India and Vietnam also signed an MoU on cooperation between the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, India (GCNEP) and the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VINATOM) in order to strengthen technical cooperation in the field of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

The two leaders also agreed to hold the next Joint Committee meeting led by the foreign ministers of the two countries in 2018 in order to review the areas of cooperation and the implementation of the Action Plan of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for the period of 2017-2020.

Defence cooperation
Both sides agreed that defence and security cooperation is an important and effective pillar of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and expressed satisfaction at the progress being made in this domain.

The two countries welcomed the ongoing exchange of senior level delegations, meetings of consultation mechanisms, stronger cooperation between their armed forces and enhanced cooperation in areas of cyber security, combating terrorism and violent extremism in all their forms and manifestations, transnational crimes, human and drug trafficking, maritime security, climate change and food security.

The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to an open, free, secure, stable, peaceful and accessible cyber space under the auspices of the United Nations and called for greater cooperation and effective implementation of the agreements signed between the two sides on cyber security. They also agreed to operationalise of the MoU signed between the National Security Council Secretariat of India and the ministry of public security of Vietnam and initiate the deputy ministerial level dialogue to enhance cooperation in traditional and non-traditional security matters and undertake training and capacity building programmes.

The Indian side affirmed its continued willingness to partner with Vietnam in defence cooperation and in building capabilities and capacities for Vietnam. Both sides agreed to expedite the implementation of the $100 million line of credit for building of high-speed patrol boats for the Vietnam Border Guards and urged an early signing of a framework agreement on the $500-million line of credit for the defence industry.

Both sides agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation in the maritime domain, including anti-piracy, security of sea lanes, exchange of white shipping information, etc. In the spirit of the proposal for an ASEAN-India Strategic Dialogue on Maritime Cooperation made at the Commemorative Summit held in New Delhi in January 2018, the two sides agreed to further promote Vietnam-India bilateral consultation on maritime issues.

The two sides unequivocally condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism. They called upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, which should include countering radicalisation, recruitment, training and movement of terrorists including foreign terrorist fighters, blocking sources of financing terrorism, including through organised crimes, money-laundering, smuggling of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), drug trafficking and other criminal activities.

Culture and education
Vietnam has proposed to establish a Vietnam Cultural Centre in India as part of intensifying cooperation in the fields of culture, tourism and people-to-people exchange as also widening and deepening cultural and historical ties by cooperating further in the areas of archaeology, conservation and museums to revive and reconnect the civilizational and historic cultural heritage between the two countries.

Both leaders appreciated the effective implementation of the project of preserving and renovating the Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site of My Son, Quang Nam province, Viet Nam. The Vietnamese side welcomed Indian line of credit for the restoration and preservation of Hoa Lai Tower and Po KlongGarai Cham Tower and grants-in-aid assistance of the Cham community in NinhThuan Province, as well as the efforts of the Government of India and the Bhagwan Mahavir Viklang Sahayta Samiti (BMVSS) to provide rehabilitation services and the prosthetic Jaipur Foot to around 500 Vietnamese in the provinces of PhuTho, VinhPhuc and other provinces.

Both sides agreed on the importance of stronger connectivity between Vietnam and India as well as between ASEAN and India. The Indian side urged Vietnam to utilise various initiatives of India for CLMV countries, including the $1 billion line of credit for physical and digital connectivity projects. The two sides agreed to explore the possibility of extending the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway further to Viet Nam through Cambodia and Lao PDR.

The two sides stressed the importance of the early signing of an ASEAN-India Maritime Transport Cooperation Agreement. They sought acceleration of the establishment of direct shipping routes between the sea ports of India and Vietnam. They also welcomed the commencement of direct flights between New Delhi and Ho Chi Minh City during the visit and urged the airlines of both countries to soon open more direct flights between major cities of the two countries.

During their talks, Prime Minister Modi and President Tran Dai Quang reiterated the importance of achieving a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and international law, freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development and a free, fair and open trade and investment system are respected.

Underscoring the significance of sub-regional frameworks in strengthening bilateral cooperation and complementing regional cooperation through ASEAN frameworks, they agreed to optimally develop and utilise existing sub-regional frameworks, especially the Mekong-Ganga Economic Corridor.

The two sides appreciated their coordination at regional and international fora and agreed to continue this tradition. Both sides reaffirmed their mutual support for each other's candidatures as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council-Vietnam for the term 2020-2021, and India for the term 2021-2022. The Vietnamese side reiterated its consistent support for permanent membership of India in a reformed Security Council.

Both leaders welcomed the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and reiterated their commitment to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They agreed that the Global Partnership remains key to the achievement of the SDGs.

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