A look-back at India-Vietnam relations as President Kovind leaves for state visit

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 18, 2018 21:01 hrs
Ram Nath Kovind

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind and First Lady Savita Kovind on Sunday departed for a three-day visit to Vietnam, with an aim to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.

Upon their arrival in Da Nang, they will depart for Hotel Furama Resort. In the evening, the President and First Lady will meet leaders of the Da Nang People's Committee.

Da Nang has a rich historical and civilisational connection with India. The place is famous for its world heritage site of My Son, and has remnants of Buddhist connections and the Hindu Cham civilisation in the form of ancient temples. The Archaeological Survey of India is helping Vietnam in the preservation and conservation of some of the temples, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

On November 19 (Monday), President Kovind will pay a visit to the Museum of Cham Sculpture. During the visit, he will participate in a group photo session with the museum staff. The President and First Lady will also participate in a photo-op with provincial leaders.

After this, President Kovind and First Lady will depart for Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The President is expected to address the Vietnam-India Business Forum and the Indian community in the city. He is also slated to meet with an Indian business delegation.

On November 20 (Tuesday), President Kovind and First Lady will depart for Monument of National Heroes and Martyrs. After that, they will pay a visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

After visiting the mausoleum, President Kovind and First Lady will depart for Presidential Palace, where they will be received by their counterparts. President Kovind will be accorded guard of honour here.

After this, a restricted meeting and delegation-level talks would be held between the two presidents, which will be followed by signing and exchange of agreements and press statements.

President Kovind will then depart for the National Assembly of Vietnam, where he will meet Nguy?n Th? Kim Ngân, chairwoman Assembly. He will also address the National Assembly.

The President is also scheduled to meet Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the Prime Minister of Vietnam at the Government House. After this, President Kovind and First Lady will depart for International Convention Centre for a banquet dinner. After wrapping up his bilateral engagements here, the President and First Lady will depart for Sydney, Australia on the evening of November 21.

India and Vietnam have robust trade and economic relations with bilateral trade of USD 12.8 billion in 2017-18.

Main items of imports from Vietnam are mobile phones and accessories, computers and electronics hardware, machinery and equipment, chemicals, rubber, ordinary metals, wood and wooden products, fibres of all kinds, pepper, means of transport, products of steels, coffee, footwear, products of chemicals and polymers and resins.

Major export commodities from India are machinery and equipment, seafood, pharmaceuticals, cotton of all kinds, automobiles, textiles and leather accessories, cattle feed ingredient, chemicals, plastic set, products of chemicals, fibres of all kinds, kinds, fabrics of all kinds and ordinary metals: jewellery and precious stones.

Over the years, political contacts have strengthened as reflected in several high-level visits by leaders from both sides. Trade and economic linkages continue to grow. India's thrust under the 'Act East' policy combined with Vietnam's growing engagement within the region and with India has paid rich dividends. Vietnam is an important regional partner in South East Asia.

India and Vietnam closely cooperate in various regional forums such as ASEAN, East Asia Summit, Mekong Ganga Cooperation, Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) besides UN and WTO.

In the first bilateral Prime Ministerial visit to Vietnam since 2001, Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook an official Visit to Vietnam from September 2-3 2016, at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart. Prime Minister Modi also called on Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, President Tran Dai Quang and Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chairperson of the National Assembly. Twelve agreements/MOUs were signed during the visit, that has provided a significant boost to the bilateral relationship.

Regular meetings between the leadership of the two sides have taken place on the sidelines of multilateral summit meetings. President Pranab Mukherjee had paid a state visit to Vietnam from September 14-17 2014.

Defence Cooperation has emerged as a significant pillar of India's strategic partnership with Vietnam. After the signing of an MoU on Defence Cooperation by the two defence ministers in November 2009, the relations have grown from strength to strength. Indian ships regularly make friendly port calls to Vietnam. For the first time, a Vietnamese ship participated in the International Fleet Review at Vishakhapatnam, India, in February 2016.

The estimated population of Indians living in Vietnam is around 2,900, mostly residing in Ho Chi Minh City. The Indian Business Chamber (INCHAM) is an organisation of Indians living in Vietnam, primarily to promote trade and business interactions. The Indian community is vibrant, law-abiding, well-educated and prosperous. A vast majority of them are professionals working in Indian and multinational companies. They retain strong family, cultural and business ties with India.

India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the first visitors to Vietnam after its victory against the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Former Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh came to India in February 1958. Former President Rajendra Prasad visited Vietnam in 1959.

Since 1976, India has offered several Lines of Credit (LoCs) to Vietnam over the years on concessional terms and conditions. An LoC agreement was signed in July 2013 for USD 19.5 million for execution of a Nam Trai-IV hydropower project and Binh Bo Pumping station.

In addition, India has also offered to discuss a line of credit of USD 300 million in the textile sector. India has also agreed to consider earmarking an amount of up to USD 100 million under the Buyer's Credit of the National Export Insurance Account(BC-NEIA) for use by Vietnam.

Vietnam has been a large recipient of training programmes under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. Presently, 150 ITEC slots are being offered to Vietnam every year along with 16 scholarships under the General Cultural Scholarship Scheme (GCSS), 14 scholarships under the Educational Exchange Programme (EEP) and 10 scholarships under the Mekong Ganga Cooperation Scholarship Scheme (MGCSS).

India has set up the Vietnam-India Center for English Language Training in Danang in July 2007 and the Vietnam-India Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Hanoi in May 2006 as part of its support to the Initiative for ASEAN Integration providing technical assistance to the Government of Vietnam. There is also a proposal to set up a Centre for Excellence in Software Development and Training in Ho Chi Minh City.

A proposal to set up a Centre for Satellite Tracking and Data Reception and an Imaging facility in Vietnam under ASEAN-India Cooperation mechanism is under consideration. The Centre will be fully funded by India and ISRO will be the implementing agency. It will utilise data provided by Indian remote sensing satellites and harness it for multiple developmental applications.

The Indian Cultural Centre was opened in Hanoi in September 2016, with the objective of strengthening India's cultural presence in Vietnam. Regular yoga, dance and music classes are held at the centre.



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