Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh held bilateral talks with Vietnam’s Minister of National Defence General Phan Van Giang in Hanoi on June 08, 2022. Wide-ranging discussions on effective and practical initiatives to further expand bilateral defence engagements and regional & global issues were held between the two sides. The two Defence Ministers also signed the ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030’, which will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing defence cooperation.
A Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Logistics Support was also inked in the presence of both the Ministers. In these times of increasing cooperative engagements between the defence forces of the two countries, this is a major step towards simplifying procedures for mutually beneficial logistic support and is the first such major agreement which Vietnam has signed with any country.
Had an excellent meeting with General Phan Van Giang, the Defence Minister of Vietnam. We renewed interactions on expanding bilateral cooperation. Our close Defence and Security cooperation is an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region. pic.twitter.com/lI0RCDHZbU— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 8, 2022
Both Ministers also agreed for early finalisation of $US 500 million Defence Line of Credit extended to Vietnam. Implementation of the projects shall add substantially to Vietnam’s Defence capabilities and further Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’.
The Raksha Mantri also announced gifting two simulators and monetary grant towards setting up of Language and IT Lab at Air Force Officers Training School for capacity building of Vietnamese Armed Forces.
The Raksha Mantri began his official visit by paying respects to late President Ho Chi Minh at his Mausoleum in Hanoi. He also visited Tran Quoc Pagoda, a revered buddhist temple which reaffirmed the age-old civilizational and people-to-people linkages between the two countries.
India and Vietnam share a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership since 2016 and defence cooperation is a key pillar of this partnership. Vietnam is an important partner in India’s Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision. Both countries share a rich history of civilisational and cultural linkages spanning over 2,000 years. India and Vietnam continue to have most trustworthy relations in contemporary times with broader convergence of interests and common concerns.
Bilateral defence engagements have expanded over a period of time to include wide-ranging contacts between the two countries, including Defence Policy Dialogues, military to military exchanges, high level visits, capacity building and training programs, cooperation in UN Peace Keeping, ship visits and bilateral exercises.
India and Vietnam, with historical roots in the common struggle for liberation from colonial rule and the national struggle for independence, share traditionally close and cordial bilateral relations. Mahatma Gandhi and Ho Chi Minh, regarded as the Father of Nation in India and Vietnam respectively, led people in their heroic struggle against colonialism in the two countries. India was the Chairman of the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC), which was formed pursuant to the Geneva Accord of 1954 to facilitate the peace process in Vietnam.
India initially maintained Consulate-level relations with the then North and South Vietnams and later established full diplomatic relations with unified Vietnam on 7 January 1972. Relations between the two countries were elevated to the level of ‘Strategic Partnership’ during the visit of Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to India in July 2007.
In 2016, during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Vietnam, bilateral relations were further elevated to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”. 2. In the context of COVID-related travel limitations, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc held the first ever India-Vietnam Virtual Summit on 21 December 2020, during which they adopted a historic “Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People” to guide the future development of bilateral relations.
On the sidelines of the Virtual Summit, the two Foreign Ministers also signed a Plan of Action for the period 2021-23 to implement the Joint Vision.
From a meagre US$ 200 million in the year 2000, bilateral trade between India and Vietnam has seen steady growth over the years. According to Indian statistics, during Financial Year (FY) April 2020 – March 2021, bilateral trade between India and Vietnam reached US$ 11.12 billion, with Indian exports to Vietnam amounting to US$ 4.99 billion and Indian imports from Vietnam at US$ 6.12 billion. This marked a decrease of 22.47 percent in bilateral trade year-on-year, largely on account of COVID-19 related disruptions. India’s trade deficit with Vietnam reduced from US$ 2.22 billion during FY 2019-2020 to US$ 1.12 billion in FY 2020-2021.
In FY 2020-21, for India, Vietnam was the 15th largest trading partner globally and the 4th largest within ASEAN, following Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. For Vietnam, on the other hand, India was the 10th largest trading partner globally. During FY 2020-2021, key items of exports from India to Vietnam included iron and steel, cotton, frozen meat, auto component, seafood, electrical machinery and equipment, animal feeds and cereals. Major Indian exports that registered positive growth during this period were cotton, auto component, electrical equipment, animal feed ingredient, cereals and pharmaceutical products. Key items of imports into India from Vietnam during this period were electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, copper and articles of copper, products of iron and steel and agrobased commodities.
India’s Investments in Vietnam 9. India’s investments in Vietnam are estimated at around US$ 1.9 billion including investments routed through third countries. According to Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Agency, as of April 2021, India has 299 valid projects with total invested capital of US$ 909.5 million, ranking 26th among countries and territories investing in Vietnam. Major sectors of Indian investment are energy, mineral exploration, agro-processing, sugar, tea, coffee manufacturing, agro-chemicals, IT and auto components. Vietnam’s Investments in India 10.
As of 2020, Vietnam has six investment projects in India with total estimated investment of US$ 28.55 million, primarily in the areas of pharmaceuticals, information technology, chemicals and building materials. Development Partnership 11. India has a long-standing development partnership with Vietnam that has made positive contributions towards capacity building, Sustainable Development Goals and socioeconomic development of Vietnam.
India has also been providing assistance to Vietnam within the ASEAN framework. Under the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) framework, India has been taking up Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), each valued at US$ 50,000, in different provinces of Vietnam for development of community infrastructure. With their short gestation period, the QIPs bring direct benefits to communities at the grassroots level. So far, since 2017, 18 QIPs have been completed in 17 provinces of Vietnam, while 8 new projects are under implementation during the period 2020-21 in 5 provinces.
In addition, 7 grant-in-aid assistance projects for the benefit of the Cham community in Ninh Thuan province were completed in December 2020 with an outlay of around US$ 1.54 million. India is also providing technical assistance worth US$ 2.25 million for conservation and restoration of ancient Cham monuments located in the Quang Nam Province of Vietnam, showcasing the deep civilizational connection between the two countries.
CULTURAL COOPERATION – The Swami Vivekananda Indian Cultural Centre (SVCC) was established in Hanoi in September 2016 to promote a comprehensive understanding of India and to foster closer links between peoples of both countries through cultural exchanges. Both countries also have regular exchange of youth delegations.
Close relations are also maintained with academia and think tanks in Vietnam. The Vietnam Institute for Indian and South-West Asian Studies (VIISAS) under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences and the Centre for Indian Studies at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics are among the key centres in Vietnam focused on Indian studies and have academic cooperation MOUs with some Indian institutions.
As announced during the Virtual Summit held in December 2020, the two sides led by India’s Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) will collaborate to bring out an Encyclopaedia of India-Vietnam Cultural and Civilizational Relations to mark the 50th year of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2022.
Tourism and People-to-People Contacts – Tourism exchanges were affected during 2020 due to COVID-related disruptions following the positive growth witnessed after the long-awaited direct flights between the two countries commenced in October 2019 and the year 2019 was celebrated as the ASEANIndia Year of Tourism. It is expected that after the COVID situation normalizes, the direct flight connectivity will resume and help in enhancing two-way tourism as well as trade and business linkages. Mission organized two India-Vietnam Tourism Roadshows in January and August 2019 in Hanoi, whereas another roadshow was organised by the Consulate General of India in Ho Chi Minh City in November 2019.
Both countries have facilitated simplified visa regime to promote bilateral tourism. In December 2017, Vietnam extended e-visa facilities to Indian citizens travelling to Vietnam. India has e-tourist visa arrangement for Vietnamese citizens since 2015. 14. During 2020, nearly 900 Indian nationals stranded in Vietnam due to COVID related travel disruptions were repatriated to India by special flights organised by the Government of India under the Vande Bharat Mission. Capacity Building, Training, Scholarships
Vietnam has been a large recipient of training programmes under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. Vietnam receives more than 200 training slots annually, including more than 130 training slots under ITEC/Civilian and technical Cooperation Scheme of Colombo Plan and further 70 training slots under ITEC (Defence).
Separately, Indian Council of Cultural Relations has several annual scholarship programmes including 14 scholarships under EEP/CEP (Education Exchange programme/Cultural Exchange Programme); 10 under MGCSS (Mekong Ganga Cooperation Scholarship Scheme); 20 under GSS (General Scholarship Scheme); and 4 scholarships for Buddhist and Sanskrit studies. The utilization of annual training slots and scholarships on offer has consistently been very high.
The recent initiative of Government of India launched in October 2019 to offer PhD fellowship programme in association with 23 IITs for 1000 students from ASEAN countries, has also received good response from Vietnam. Vietnam was also among a select group of partner countries where Government of India launched the new e-ITEC programme in October 2019. 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi Embassy of India organized various events to celebrate Mahatma@150 during the years 2019 and 2020.
These include Jaipur artificial limb fitment camps, which were organized in four provinces of Vietnam, benefitting 1000 people, under ‘India for Humanity’ initiative of the Government of India. The Embassy of India, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communication and Vietnam Post jointly launched a commemorative stamp on Mahatma Gandhi on Gandhi Jayanti on 2 October 2019.
An estimated 5500 people from India, including some short-term visitors, constitute the Indian community in Vietnam. A majority of them are based in and around Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in the southern part of Vietnam. Most of the community members are professionals employed in business and trading companies, oil refineries, IT sector, hotels/restaurants, mining, yoga institutions, civil aviation sector and schools.
Some Indians in Vietnam currently hold senior positions in multi-national companies and international organisations. Indian Business Chamber (INCHAM), a recognized organization by the Government of Vietnam, represents Indian community and promotes Indian business interests in Vietnam.