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India to expedite supply of patrol boats to Vietnam; Bilateral trade to be stepped up to 15 billion dollars in next two years

India has agreed to expedite the implementation of one hundred million US dollar line of credit to Vietnam for building high speed boats for the Vietnam border guards to enable that country to effectively patrol the South China Sea, a joint statement issued at the end of the visit of Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang”s official visit to New Delhi last week.

The move is significant since Vietnam and neighbouring China are locked in a battle of nerves over annexation of some islands in South China Sea by Beijing. The speed boats to be supplied by India will help Vietnam to effectively patrol the seas.

This was decided at the delegation level talks between the two countries Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with the visiting Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang last week.

Both the countries urged for early signing of a framework agreement on the 500 million US Dollars Line of Credit for Defense industry. Both sides agreed to further enhance defense ties, including through exchanges of senior level defense delegations, regular senior level dialogues, cooperation between the two armed forces, port calls of naval and Coast Guard ships, capacity building projects, procurement of equipment, transfer of technology and cooperation in regional fora, including ADMM plus.

Both sides agreed that it is essential to strengthen cooperation in maritime domain, including anti-piracy, security of sea lanes, exchange of white shipping information, etc. In the spirit of the proposal for an ASEAN-India Strategic Dialogue on Maritime Cooperation made at the Commemorative Summit held in New Delhi in January 2018, the two sides agreed to further promote Viet Nam-India bilateral consultation on maritime issues.

Both sides agreed that enhancing strong trade and economic engagement is a strategic objective, a core element of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and are essential for strengthening bilateral ties. Both leaders expressed satisfaction and commended the significant rise in trade turnover during the last two years.

In order to realize potential to both increase the volume of trade and diversify its composition, they requested the relevant ministries and agencies on both sides to explore substantive and practical measures to achieve the trade target of 15 billion US Dollars by 2020, by strengthening exchanges of trade delegations, business-to-business contacts, regular organization of trade fairs and events. Both sides agreed to hold the next Meeting of the Joint Sub-Commission on Trade in Ha Noi in 2018 at the earliest.

Both sides urged leaders of business and industry of both countries to explore new trade and investment opportunities in identified priority areas of cooperation: hydrocarbons, power generation, renewable energy, energy, conservation, infrastructure, textiles, footwear, pharmaceuticals, machine tools, agriculture and agro-products, tourism, chemicals, ICT and other service sector industries., The two sides agreed to intensify cooperation to increase productivity, quantum and content of science and technology in agricultural products.

President Tran Dai Quang welcomed Indian companies to invest in Viet Nam and affirmed Viet Nam’s commitment to create favourable conditions and facilitation for Indian investments in accordance with Vietnamese laws. He applauded Prime Minister Modi’s efforts which improved India’s ranking in the "ease of doing business”.

President Quang highly appreciated India’s long standing and continued grants-in-aid and lines of credit for Viet Nam.  the Mekong - Ganga Cooperation (MGC) framework, as well as the projects under the fund of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs),

The two sides agreed that their cooperation in oil and gas exploration, thermal and hydroelectric power and renewable energy and energy conservation is registering remarkable progress. President Quang welcomed Indian businesses to expand their oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities on land and in the continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Viet Nam and to this effect suggested that relevant Indian companies file concrete proposals for the blocks offered by the Vietnamese side.

Both sides agreed to actively pursue the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on collaboration in oil and gas exploration projects in third countries. The Vietnamese side also welcomed Indian oil and gas companies to avail of opportunities in the midstream and downstream sectors in Viet Nam.

The Vietnamese side took note of the request by the Indian side on actively considering signing the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance with a view to strengthening the cooperation in the renewable energy space.

 Both sides agreed on the importance of stronger connectivity between Viet Nam and India as well as between ASEAN and India. The Indian side urged Viet Nam to utilize various initiatives of India for CLMV countries, including the US$1 billion line of credit for physical and digital connectivity projects. The progress made in regional connectivity endeavors such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway was noted by the two Leaders. The two sides agreed to explore the possibility of extending the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway further to Viet Nam through Cambodia and Laos PDR.

The two sides stressed the importance of the early signing of an ASEAN-India Maritime Transport Cooperation Agreement. They sought acceleration of the establishment of direct shipping routes between the Sea Ports of India and Viet Nam. They also welcomed the commencement of direct flights between New Delhi and Ho Chi Minh City during the visit and urged the airlines of both countries to soon open more direct flights between major cities of the two countries.

Prime Minister Modi and President Tran Dai Quang shared convergence of views on various bilateral and international issues, including the regional security situation in Asia. They reiterated the importance of achieving a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and international law, freedom of navigation and over flight, sustainable development and a free, fair and open trade and investment system are respected.

Underscoring the significance of sub-regional frameworks in strengthening bilateral cooperation and complementing regional cooperation through ASEAN frameworks, they agreed to optimally develop and utilize existing sub-regional frameworks, especially the Mekong-Ganga Economic Corridor.

The two sides re-affirmed their determination and efforts to further cooperate in maintaining peace, stability and development in the Indo – Pacific Ocean region as well as in the world at large. They reiterated the importance of, and the need for complete compliance with international law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS), including the implementation of international legal obligations in good faith, the maintenance of freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea, full respect for diplomatic and legal processes, peaceful settlement of disputes without resorting to the threat or use of force, and in accordance with international law. In this regard, both sides support the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and look forward to an early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. 

At the invitation of President Ram Nath Kovind, Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang, and Spouse paid a State Visit to India from March 02-04 . The President of Viet Nam was accompanied by a high-level official delegation, including Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mr. Pham Binh Minh, leaders of many ministries, provinces and a large business delegation.

During the visit, the high level Vietnamese delegation held delegation-level talks with the Prime Minister Narenda Modi. He also addressed the Viet Nam - India Business Forum and held discussions with several prominent leaders of Indian industry and business.

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