“India-Vietnam partnership key to peace & stability in Indo-Pacific region”
Vietnam in recent years has seen high economic growth and expansion of trade and investment, which has resulted in the country moving out of the category of Least Developed Country (LDC) and become part of new lower middle income country (MIC). It has also seen sharp truncation in poverty levels, which has resulted in bolstering the growth of GDP, currently estimated at USD 200.8 billion. India always had good relations with Vietnam which have strengthened in recently years to due to several factors. A joint sub commission of trade took place in Vietnam in 2018 where both countries discussed the ways and means to reduce trade barriers in implementation of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between India and ASEAN. With an aim to boost the bilateral trade between the two countries further, a high level Vietnamese delegation headed by a senior Minister of the Government visited India and as part of their official fixtures, met a TPCI delegation in the Vietnamese embassy in New Delhi. On the sidelines of the meeting, Publicity Division of TPCI got an opportunity to meet the new Vietnamese Ambassador to India Mr. Pham Sanh Chau and discussed various issues like present relations, trade and future prospects.
Excerpts from the interview with Mr. Pham Sanh Chau, Ambassador of Vietnam to India:
Q. How do you see India-Vietnam ties amid the changing geopolitical situation in the Indo-Pacific?
Pham Sanh Chau: India-Vietnam strategic partnership is the key to maintaining peace and stability not only in SE Asia but in the entire Indo-Pacific region, as the two countries share plethora of complementarities. Bilateral trade has increased rapidly since the liberalization of the economies of both Vietnam and India but the two countries have had good diplomatic relations since 1972. In 1975 India granted the “Most Favoured Nation” status to Vietnam. Both countries signed a bilateral trade agreement in 1978 and the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) in 1997. In 2003, both nations promulgated a Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation which was followed by Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between India and ASEAN, which further brought the two countries together.
Q. What are your future plans, now that you have come to head the embassy in India?
Pham Sanh Chau: I plan to make Vietnamese embassy a centre of activities. I am a good seller of my country and I will work to push trade with India in a very aggressive manner.
Q. Can you elaborate how trade prospects can further be developed between the two countries?
Pham Sanh Chau: Focus has to be on food and agri products. Your mango, pomegranate and oranges are complemented by Vietnamese Dragon fruit and Longan fruit. Unfortunately, your country levies 50% tariff on such exotic fruits like Dragon fruit and Longan fruit. Rs. 500 tariff is levied on every kilo of pepper coming to India. Vietnam exports $2.2 billion worth of pepper to the world but only $36 million worth of pepper comes to India. This high tariff is detrimental to end consumers in India as it makes the products expensive. It is also not consistent with WTO norms. On one hand we are talking of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and on other hand we have such high tariffs. Likewise, tariff on Vietnamese coffee is 50% and on processed cashew nuts it is 30%. This need to be sorted out!
Q. What role can TPCI play in enhancing bilateral trade between two countries?
Pham Sanh Chau: It is good to know upon coming to India that TPCI is promoting food and beverage trade with India in an aggressive manner. Indusfood is a good platform to take our business relations to new heights. We import meat in large quantities from India. Fish and shrimp too are being imported. Your mango and pomegranates too have good prospect in Vietnam. On other hand, we would like to send Vietnamese Dragon Fruit, Longan Fruit, coffee and cashew nuts to India. We have invested heavily on developing SEZs in Vietnam which can get into tie-up with Indian companies. If you have any requirement for any fruit or commodity, let us know. Our farmers are very gifted, if you need anything, we can produce and export.