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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs 18 September 2015  

Viet Nam, India seek closer economic ties

A multi-sector delegation of 30 businesses from India met the day before yesterday with executives of more than 100 Vietnamese companies in HCM City to explore business opportunities.

The visiting companies operate in pharmaceuticals (both raw materials and finished products), engineering products and consultancies, plastics, chemicals, lubricants and agriculture biotech products.

They are also involved in innovative nanotechnology products for roads, garments, raw materials for steel industry and knitwear.

Speaking at a Viet Nam-India business meeting, Vo Tan Thanh, director of Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)'s HCM City office, said trade between the two countries had increased sharply in recent years, going up from US$1 billion in 2006 to $5.6 billion last year.

Viet Nam's key exports to India include mobile phones and accessories, computers, electronic devices and accessories, rubber, black pepper, wood and wooden products.

Viet Nam imports from India pharmaceutical products and materials, machinery, devices and accessories, materials used in the plastic, garment and textile and footwear industries, chemicals and cattle feed.

India is one of Viet Nam's top 10 trading partners, while Viet Nam ranks 28th in India.

As of August, India ranked 27th among 105 countries and territories investing in Viet Nam, with nearly $530 million in 111 projects.

Vietnamese companies have invested around $26 million in India.

Tat Thanh Cang, deputy chairman of the HCM City People's Committee, said "India was one of HCM City's most significant partners in various fields."

In the first eight months of the year, the export value of HCM City to India increased by 3.31 per cent compared to the same period last year, reaching $184.7 million.

Import value from India reached $356.9 million, a year-on-year increase of 9.06 per cent. However, the figure is still far from the huge potential of each nation, he said.

Cang said the two countries had set a bilateral trade target of $15 billion by 2020.

Shri Arun Kumar Saraf, president of the MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and leader of the Indian business delegation, said: "Viet Nam is India's most trusted friend and ally and one of the pillars of India's ‘Look East' Policy."

The two countries have cooperated effectively in the textile industry, pharmaceuticals and tourism.

For instance, an average of 55,000 Indian tourists annually visit Viet Nam, which has Indian influence, including Hindu temples in HCM City, the My Son sanctuary in central Viet Nam and many Indian restaurants.

"This figure is expected to increase as more promotion activities increase between Viet Nam and India, and following the recent opening of direct flights by Jet Airways," he said.

Janak Sheth, vice president of the Federation of Gujarat Industries, said: "We are glad to have our team of 17 members to identify areas of common interest for trading with partners in HCM City.

"We are confident that the meetings will definitely go a long way in firming up import/export orders that will benefit both countries."

Smita Pant, the Indian consulate general in HCM City, said: "Our advice to visiting Indian companies has been to focus on both trade and investment as Viet Nam becomes a major manufacturing hub in the region and benefits by integrated supply chain, low labour costs and good logistics."

"It has also signed new-generation FTAs that make Viet Nam India's ideal partner, and we must look at means to leverage mutual complemen-tarity," she added.

"To Vietnamese companies, I would urge them to look at India as a steady supplier of raw material and machinery at a competitive price, with good quality and a reliable partner."

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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