Fostering Vietnam-India comprehensive strategic partnership

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and his spouse have arrived in Hanoi to begin his State visit to Vietnam at the invitation of the Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong. His visit to Vietnam affirms that the two countries will continue to maintain regular high-level visits to strengthen political trust and promote the comprehensive strategic partnership in a more substantial and effective manner.

Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong chairs an official welcome ceremony for Indian President Ram Nath Kovind in Hanoi (Photo: VGP)
Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong chairs an official welcome ceremony for Indian President Ram Nath Kovind in Hanoi (Photo: VGP)

This is the first visit to Vietnam, as well as the first visit to the Asian region, by the Indian President since taking office in July 2017.

India is located in South Asia with a total area of nearly 3.3 million km2 and is rich in natural resources. India's population is over 1.3 billion. After the victory of the 2014 general election, the ruling Indian People's Party (BJP) has implemented policies that were committed to voters to ensure a situation of stable politics and security.

In 2017, GDP of India reached US$2.45 trillion, up 6.7% over 2016, and per capita income posted at US$1,989. India has become the sixth largest economy in the world. The country has also accomplished great achievements in science and technology and is considered as a key player in shaping the industrial revolution 4.0.

Vietnam and India have a long-lasting traditional friendship. Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations in 1972, the Vietnam - India traditional friendship and multifaceted cooperation, whose foundation was laid by President Ho Chi Minh and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Neru, has been continuously nurtured and promoted by generations of leaders and people of the two countries.

India actively supported Vietnam in the struggles for national independence and unification in the past, as well as in the current cause of renewal and economic development. The two countries established the strategic partnership in 2007. In September 2016, the bilateral relationship was upgraded to the comprehensive strategic partnership, reflecting the deep and effective development of the relations between India and Vietnam. In 2017, the two countries held significant activities to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of the strategic partnership.

We are pleased to see that the bilateral cooperation between Vietnam and India has developed strongly in all aspects, including politics, economics, culture, education, science and technology, energy, national defense and security. The two sides also hold regular exchanges of delegations at all levels and the relations between the Communist Party of Vietnam and other political parties of India are increasingly expanding. Bilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the Joint committee, Political consultation, Defence policy dialogue and Security dialogue were also successfully held in 2018.

The bilateral cooperation in the field of economy and trade has also flourished. India is one of the 10 largest trading partners of Vietnam and the two-way trade revenue rose by five times over the 10 years between 2007 and 2017. As of September 2018, the bilateral trade volume was estimated at about US$8.3 billion (up 47.1% over the same period in 2017). The two sides strive to raise the two-way trade turnover to US$15 billion by 2020.

India has invested in 182 projects in Vietnam, with a total registered capital of US$816 million, ranking 28th among 126 countries and territories investing in Vietnam. Vietnam currently has seven investment projects in India with a total registered capital of nearly US$6.15 million. Vietnam and India are now members of the ASEAN-India Investment Agreement under the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement.

The two countries have also witnessed positive development in security and defense cooperation in addition to finance - credit, oil and gas, and science - technology cooperation. Cultural and educational cooperation has made remarkable progress with the establishment of the Indian Cultural Centre and the Indian Research Centre in Hanoi in 2016 and the Vietnam Research Centre in New Delhi in March 2018. The cooperation on tourism and people-to-people exchanges is also growing with the increasing number of Indian tourists to Vietnam, posting an annual increase of 17% in the 2010 - 2016 period and 30% in 2017.

Vietnam and India have coordinated closely, shared mutual trust and supported each other on various regional and international issues. As a coordinator of India-ASEAN relations in the 2015 - 2018 period, Vietnam supports India's implementation of the "Act East" policy and other regional connectivity initiatives. Meanwhile, India supports ASEAN's central role in the region.

The State visit of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and his spouse intend to consolidate the political trust between the two countries, creating momentum for further development of the traditional friendship and comprehensive strategic partnership for the interests of the two peoples as well as for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.