Hanoi: President Ram Nath Kovind said India and Vietnam "made significant achievement no doubt, but a lot more is waiting to happen."
The President made these remarks while addressing the Vietnam-India Business Forum in Hanoi during his state visit to the Asian country.
Congratulating the people and government of Vietnam for their 'stupendous success' in building the country's economy, President Kovind said, "Vietnam has seen spectacular economic growth in the last two decades. This has allowed reduction of the poverty rate from over 70% in the 1990s to less than 10% now. The increase in per capita GDP of Vietnam from less than US Dollars 100 in 1990 to over US Dollars 2500 today is a remarkable achievement with very few parallels in the developing world."
Accompanied by a delegation, consisting of several ministerial officials, President Kovind, and the first lady Savita Kovind arrived in Vietnam on Sunday on a three-day visit, with an aim to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
India is one among the top ten trading partners of Vietnam. The economic and commercial cooperation between the two Asian countries has seen a renewed thrust especially after several high-level visits by leaders of the two countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Vietnam in September 2016, followed by Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc to India in January 2018, and former President Tran Dai Quang's visit to India in March, this year, has given special impetus to business and strategic linkages between the two countries.
Leaders of both the countries have set a trade target of USD 15 billion by 2020. As per Indian data, bilateral trade between Vietnam and India is about USD12.8 billion registering an increase of 27 per cent.
"Vietnam and India business partnership speaks for itself. With matching growth and lucrative business prospects on both sides, there is little convincing to be done," said President Kovind, adding that "Indian growth presents opportunities for two-way engagement in financial services, IT, digital economy, hydro-carbons, defence, renewable energy, mining, health-care, tourism and civil aviation sectors. We want Vietnam to collaborate with us in our flagship programmes - Make in India, Clean India, Start-up India, and Digital India."
President Kovind also highlighted the importance of the energy sector and said that India is willing to partner with the South East Asian country.
"There are significant opportunities in the oil and gas, power, infrastructure and renewable energy sectors. In India, we have set a target to reach solar and wind energy generation capacity of 175 Gigawatt by 2022. With their global and cutting edge-expertise and experience, Indian renewable majors are ready to partner Vietnam," asserted President Kovind.
According to Vietnam's General Department of Customs, bilateral trade between India and Vietnam jump by about 50 per cent in this first half of this year alone. The positive bilateral trade has been because of Vietnamese exports in 2018, which was around USD 3.92 billion. From January to June, Vietnam imported USD 2.44 billion worth of goods from India, which surged to 9.2 per cent over the same period last year, with cotton taking the lead at USD 320 million, up 44 per cent.
Both India and Vietnam are members of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, under which mechanisms have been set up to facilitate trade between the two countries. Vietnam is the eighth largest export destination for Indian products in the world and second largest in the ASEAN region. It is also the fourth largest trading partner of India among ASEAN countries after Indonesia, Singapore.
"There is a large scope for increasing trade and investment especially in certain Indian products including pharmaceuticals, seafood, agricultural products, chemicals, machinery, iron and steel, infrastructure and energy cooperation," said Ashok Malik, Press Secretary to the President of India.
India's investments in Vietnam calculate to almost USD1.66 billion. India has 93 projects in Vietnam with a total investment of about USD 1 billion, while Vietnam has three investment projects in India with a total investment of USD 23.6 million.
Meanwhile, Hanoi, by many estimates is pitched to be the fastest growing city in the world in terms of GDP from 2008 to 2022.
Economic and trade ties between the two nations go back to the second century of the Hindu Kingdom of Cham or Champa. That relationship got a further thrust with India's Look East and Act East policy.
The Indo-Vietnam Joint Business Council which was established in 1993 has also been working to stimulate trade ties between the two countries.
"We are on track to achieve our target of 15 billion US dollars bilateral trade by the year 2020. Vietnam is a very important trading partner of India in ASEAN and India is now among the top ten trading partners of Vietnam," President Kovind added.
The India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway project is being looked upon with great interest in Asia. The highway, at present, is under construction. It is a part of India's Look East Policy and therefore will connect Moreh in Manipur with Thailand's Mae Sot via Myanmar.
There is also a plan in the works to extend the 3,200 route from India to Vietnam via Cambodia and Laos and name it the East-West Economic Corridor. By some estimates the corridor will generate annually, an estimated USD70 billion in incremental GDP and 20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025.
Saying that the two Asian countries are on a path to achieve the target of 15 billion US dollars bilateral trade by the year 2020, the Indian leader laid out a roadmap for the future of India-Vietnam relationship.
"We must encourage our start-up sectors and innovation-based industry to leverage each other. The Indian start-up eco-system ranks third globally. This year has been particularly successful for us, with over 1200 tech-startups taking wings. We must also learn from each other on how to improve productivity; how to approach the Fourth Industrial Revolution; how to promote innovation and entrepreneurship; and not the least, how to leverage technology for governance," said India's Head of State.
President Kovind will conclude his three-day visit to Vietnam on Tuesday, following which he will begin the second leg of his visit to Australia, where he will hold talks in Melbourne and Sydney.