|Vietnamese Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh (L) at an interview
Recalling that links between Vietnam and India in religion, culture and trade have existed for thousands of years, the ambassador stressed that bilateral ties have been on the growing trend, especially since the two countries set up their diplomatic ties in 1972 and lifted the relations to a strategic partnership in 2007.
The Vietnam-India relationship is at its highest growth stage ever, with strong political trust as the two countries share common strategic interests and mutual trust in almost all bilateral and multilateral issues, including the East Sea matter, he said.
The trust has been strengthened in recent years thanks to the regular exchange of high-ranking delegations of the two countries’ parties, State, National Assembly and Government, noted the diplomat. Vietnam’s Party General Secretary, President and Prime Minister have visited India during recent year, with the latest made in December 2016 of NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.
The President and Vice President of India have also made visits to Vietnam, and last September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Vietnam resulted in the elevation of bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Security and defence ties continue to be a highlight of the Vietnam-India relations. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, India pledged a credit package worth US$500 million for Vietnam to modernise defence. The Vietnam visit of Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar last June and India visit by Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich in December 2016 were important events that helped deepen the defence ties between the two countries, said Ambassador Thanh.
Vietnam and India has also enjoyed growing economic and trade cooperation, he said, adding that two-way trade reached over US$5.5 billion in 2015, and India has become one of the ten largest trade partners of Vietnam. The two countries are striving for US$15 billion in trade in 2020, he stated.
In term of investment, Vietnam has become an attractive destination for Indian investors. As of September 2016, India had 131 projects in Vietnam worth over US$700 million, becoming the 25th largest foreign investor in the country.
Science-technology partnership has been strengthened, with India now building a remote sensing data reception and processing station in Vietnam in the framework of the ASEAN-India cooperation.
During the visit of Prime Minister Modi, the two sides also signed seven important deals in science and technology, said the diplomat, adding that India has supported Vietnam in human resource training and provided equipment in the field. The two countries have signed a framework agreement on nuclear energy for peaceful purpose.
Bilateral cooperation in culture, education and people-to-people relations are flourishing through the exchanges of artists, scholars and students as well as cultural events including film festivals and fashion shows.
With all the achievements that the two countries have made in developing bilateral ties over the past 45 years and especially the past decade, Ambassador Thanh expressed strong belief that the relations will continue to thrive in the future, contributing to socio-economic development and security in each country as well as the enhancement of their position in the world arena.
Regarding future prospects of the Vietnam-India relations, the diplomat held that the two countries should focus on five cooperation pillars as defined in their strategic partnership, namely politics-diplomacy, defence-security, economy-trade, science-technology, and culture-education.
Moreover, bilateral partnership should not be limited to the five pillars, but should be expanded to all fields including affiliation between legislative bodies and Party agencies as well as mass organisations.
The ambassador noted the need to improve the efficiency of the mechanisms of joint committee and sub-committees for trade, science-technology and education cooperation, to match the effective operation of other cooperation mechanisms such as strategic dialogue, political consultation and defence dialogue.
At the same time, the two sides should also work more closely in multilateral mechanisms, firstly in the ASEAN-India partnership, especially when Vietnam is currently the coordinator of the cooperation.
Mentioning activities planned for the celebration of the 45th bilateral diplomatic ties and 10-year strategic partnership, Ambassador Thanh said that the two sides have agreed to increase mutual visits at all levels, especially at high level.
Vietnamese and Indian Ambassadors will appear on television in each country to talk about the bilateral ties, while ministries and agencies of both countries are encouraged to hold trade and investment events as well as business forums.
A Vietnamese film festival in India and a similar event in Vietnam will be held, along with a photo exhibition on Vietnam-India diplomatic relationship in the past 45 years, he said, adding that major cities of the two countries are scheduled to set up friendship ties.
In January 2017, the Vietnamese Embassy in India will also organise a series of events, including art exhibitions, a film festival and art performances in New Delhi and two other Indian states, which will mark an exciting start of the Vietnam-India friendship year 2017, said the diplomat.