| Indian President Ram Nath Kovind
The Vietnamese Embassy in India held a recent press conference to announce a Vietnam visit by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, beginning on November 18.
During the visit from November 18-20, President Kovind is scheduled to hold talks with Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong on issues of shared concern, especially regional and global matters, and meet National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. He will deliver a speech to the National Assembly, making him the second foreign leader to address Vietnam’s legislature after Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Defence-security cooperation is seen as an important and effective pillar of their comprehensive strategic partnership, as demonstrated by frequent reciprocal visits between military officers and dialogues at the deputy defence ministerial level.
The defence forces of both nations are also working closely in information sharing, personnel training and equipment provision. They have maintained dialogue mechanisms and beefed up cooperation in cyber security, counter-terrorism, capacity building, equipment procurement and technology transfer, as well as at regional forums like the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus.
Defence cooperation has been elevated to the highest-ever level, and India has become one of the most important defence partners of Vietnam, Chau noted.
Additionally, delegation exchanges at all levels have also been strengthened between their Parties, legislative bodies, defence ministries, courts and localities. The countries have carried out the signed agreements and organized strategic dialogues and political consultations at the deputy foreign ministerial level every year.
Apart from the sound relations in politics-diplomacy and defence-security, bilateral economic-trade partnerships have seen remarkable progress over recent years with India having emerged as one of the top 12 trade partners of Vietnam.
Bilateral trade grew by 41% from US$5.6 billion in 2016 to US$7.6 billion in 2017. It rose fivefold over the past decade, totaling US$9.2 billion for the first 10 months of this year, up 47% from a year earlier.
Notably, people-to-people exchanges and a wide range of cultural activities have been held over the last two years such as photo exhibitions, film festivals, Vietnamese cultural days, the opening of Vietnamese books’ rooms in Indian libraries, and the establishment of a centre for Vietnamese studies, Ambassador Chau said.
Science and technology are also potential cooperation areas that are being boosted by the two sides with the opening of branches run by IT firms of India in Vietnam, while many Vietnamese scientists have also received training in India over the past years. However, their collaboration in these areas is still below expectation, the Vietnamese diplomat said.
Chau also highlighted great potential for tourism development between the two nations, saying that nearly 120,000 Indians visited Vietnam in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 30% year, and the figure is expected to hit 150,000 – 170,000 this year.
As many as 20,000 Vietnamese traveled India every year, most of whom make pilgrimages to the Buddhist land and visit cultural and heritage sites.