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Vietnam-India comprehensive strategic partnership has made progress

19 June, 2024, 12:00 774 Views 0 Comment

In an interview with Diplomatist Magazine, Mr. Le Quang Bien, Consul General of Vietnam in Mumbai, provides perspectives on the burgeoning Vietnam-India relationship, particularly focussing on trade, investment, tourism, and renewable energy sectors. With Vietnam’s emergence as a pivotal manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia and India’s robust technological prowess, he highlights the promising avenues for collaboration in manufacturing, technology, and agriculture. Mr. Bien also sheds light on Vietnam’s rich cultural and natural attractions, emphasising the Consulate General’s efforts to promote tourism and culinary exchange in Mumbai. 

Diplomatist: As the Consul General of Vietnam in Mumbai, how do you see the potential for enhanced trade and investment, particularly in sectors like manufacturing, technology, and agriculture?

Mr. Le Quang Bien: In recent times, the Vietnam-India comprehensive strategic partnership has made important progress in many fields including economic and trade cooperation of which the two countries are striving to bring bilateral trade turnover to 20 billion USD.

Both Vietnam and India are rapidly growing economies with diverse strengths, so the two countries have great potential for enhanced trade and investment. India considers Vietnam a key pillar in its Act East policy and an important partner in its Indo-Pacific vision. Vietnam always attaches its high priority to promoting comprehensive cooperation with India, especially in areas of economics, trade, and investment in an increasingly substantive and effective manner.

Based on the favourable conditions mentioned above and the complementary strengths of the two economies, in my opinion, there are a number of reasons why specific sectors such as manufacturing, technology and agriculture promise to have many opportunities to strengthen cooperation.

Manufacturing: While Vietnam has emerged as a pivotal manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia, strongly focusing on electronics, textiles, and automotive industries… India’s burgeoning manufacturing capabilities, along with its abundant material resources and skilled labour force offer a fitting complement to Vietnam’s strengths in this sector. Collaboration between the two nations promises cost-effective production, economies of scale and expanded market access. India’s extensive network of suppliers and manufacturers could be integrated seamlessly with Vietnam’s manufacturing ecosystem in order to enhance sourcing, production, and distribution processes for both sides. By leveraging Vietnam’s strategic location as the key gateway to ASEAN and its array of free trade agreements, Indian enterprises would be able to gain access to a vast consumer market not only within ASEAN but also worldwide.

Technology: Both Vietnam and India boast vibrant technology ecosystems, marked by burgeoning startups and a keen focus on innovation. Two sides should enhance collaboration in this domain by spanning joint research and development ventures, technology transfer initiatives, and strategic partnerships across IT services, fintech, e-commerce, and renewable energy sectors. By pooling expertise and resources, both nations stand to expedite their technological progressions, thereby unlocking new avenues for growth. India’s rich reservoir of engineering and IT talent could perfectly complement Vietnam’s burgeoning workforce in the technology realm. Collaboration efforts encompass skill enhancement endeavours, exchange programs, and joint training sessions, aimed at fortifying human capital in both nations. Moreover, India’s well-established research and development institutions and innovation ecosystem dovetail harmoniously with Vietnam’s emergent innovation landscape. Collaborative endeavours in joint R&D projects and technology incubation programs are poised to foster innovation and generate novel intellectual property. Additionally, both countries are actively investing in digital infrastructure, paving the way for synergistic collaborations in domains like cybersecurity, digital payments, and smart city initiatives. Harnessing the power of digital connectivity holds the promise of heightened efficiency, reduced operational costs, and enhanced service delivery across diverse sectors.

Agriculture: Agriculture stands as a cornerstone sector for both Vietnam and India, employing a substantial portion of their populations and making significant contributions to their respective economies. Collaboration in agriculture encompasses the exchange of best practices, technology transfer, and investments spanning crop cultivation, agribusiness, food processing, and agricultural infrastructure. By capitalizing on each other’s strengths, both nations can bolster agricultural productivity, ensure food security, and cater to the escalating demand for high-quality food products both domestically and internationally. India’s varied agro-climatic zones and Vietnam’s proficiency in tropical agriculture present avenues for crop diversification and knowledge sharing. Joint efforts in research, crop trials, and seed technology hold the potential to augment agricultural yields and resilience. Furthermore, India’s proficiency in food processing and packaging complements Vietnam’s prowess in primary agricultural production. Collaboration in value addition endeavours such as food processing, packaging, and quality assurance promises to elevate the worth of agricultural products and broaden market horizons. Addressing shared challenges concerning water management, soil health, and climate change in agriculture requires concerted action. Collaborative initiatives in sustainable agricultural practices, encompassing organic farming, water conservation, and renewable energy integration, can effectively tackle these challenges while fostering environmentally friendly agricultural practices.

Diplomatist: What unique cultural and natural attractions does Vietnam offer to Indian tourists, and how is the Consulate General promoting these attractions to the Mumbai audience?

Mr. Le Quang Bien: Vietnam offers a plethora of unique cultural and natural attractions that completely entice Indian tourists. Cultural and heritage gems acclaimed by UNESCO such as Hoi An, the imperial city of Hue, and the majestic Halong Bay beckon visitors to delve into Vietnam’s rich history, vibrant traditions, and diverse ethnic cultures. From bustling markets to savoury street food and traditional festivals, Indian travellers can immerse themselves in the heart and soul of Vietnam.

Beyond its cultural allure, Vietnam captivates travellers with its breathtaking natural landscapes. From the serene rice terraces of Sapa to the picturesque beaches of Da Nang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc to romantic and dreamy land in Da Lat, Vietnam offers diverse experiences for nature enthusiasts. Adventurous souls can also explore lush jungles, cruise along winding rivers, and discover hidden gems like the dramatic caves of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park or the floating markets of the Mekong Delta.

Moreover, Vietnam’s beautiful beaches, including Phu Quoc, Danang, and Nha Trang, have become increasingly popular for Indian weddings. With their crystal-clear waters, golden sands, and luxurious beachfront resorts, these coastal havens offer an enchanting backdrop for romantic beach weddings and unforgettable honeymoons.

As the Consulate General of Vietnam in Mumbai, we have promoted these attractions involving various strategies, including organising cultural events, collaborating with travel agencies, and utilizing digital platforms to create awareness among Indian tourists. Additionally, fostering people-to-people exchanges through cultural programs and tourism campaigns strengthens ties between Vietnam and India, encouraging Indian travellers to explore Vietnam’s beauty and hospitality firsthand.

The Consulate General of Vietnam in Mumbai also actively promotes the perfect locations in Vietnam for Indian weddings as well as businesses’ MICE activities by showcasing Vietnam’s stunning scenery, hospitality, and cultural experiences through targeted promotion campaigns, collaborations with event planners, and participation in travel fairs.

Diplomatist: Air connectivity plays a crucial role in facilitating tourism between countries. What developments have there been in terms of flight connectivity between India and Vietnam, and are there plans to enhance this connectivity in the future?

Mr. Le Quang Bien: The development of air connectivity between India and Vietnam has experienced significant growth in recent years, catalyzing tourism between the two nations. Since the inauguration of the first-ever direct flights connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with New Delhi in 2019, there has been a remarkable expansion in-flight connectivity. Currently, there are up to 70 direct flights per week connecting India and Vietnam operated by airlines of India (Indigo, Air India) and Vietnam (Vietjet Air, Vietnam Airlines), showcasing the increasing demand for travel and tourism between the two countries.

These direct flight connections have greatly facilitated travel for tourists, business travellers, and individuals seeking to explore the business opportunities, cultural, historical, and natural attractions of both nations. The availability of multiple flights per week provides travellers with greater flexibility in their planning trips and encourages more frequent exchanges between India and Vietnam.

Looking ahead, there are plans and opportunities to further enhance air connectivity between India and Vietnam. Continued growth in tourism, business, and trade relations between the two countries is likely to drive the expansion of flight routes and frequencies. Airlines may explore additional direct routes, introduce more flights, and improve connectivity to secondary cities to meet the growing demand.

Moreover, ongoing efforts by aviation authorities, airlines, and tourism boards to promote bilateral air travel and streamline visa procedures can contribute to enhancing air connectivity between India and Vietnam. By fostering closer cooperation and addressing regulatory barriers, both countries can work towards ensuring seamless and efficient air travel, ultimately boosting tourism and strengthening ties between India and Vietnam.

Diplomatist: Vietnam is also known for its delicious cuisine. Are there any efforts to promote Vietnamese cuisine and culinary exchange in Mumbai, such as food festivals or culinary workshops?

Mr. Le Quang Bien: Absolutely! Vietnamese cuisine is renowned worldwide for its delicious flavours, fresh ingredients, and diverse culinary traditions. As an official representative organ of Vietnam in Mumbai, promoting Vietnamese cuisine and facilitating culinary exchanges in Mumbai is indeed one of our priorities.

We have kept trying to find effective ways to promote Vietnamese cuisine through organizing and participating in food festivals in Mumbai dedicated to showcasing the richness and diversity of Vietnamese culinary delights. These festivals can feature a variety of authentic Vietnamese dishes prepared by skilled chefs, allowing attendees to experience the flavours and textures first-hand. Such events provide an excellent platform for cultural exchange, where Indian food enthusiasts can discover and appreciate the unique tastes and cooking techniques of Vietnamese cuisine.

Additionally, culinary workshops and cooking classes can also be organized to help Mumbai residents learn more about Vietnamese cooking methods, ingredients, and traditional recipes. These hands-on experiences offer participants the opportunity to learn directly from Vietnamese chefs, enabling them to recreate authentic Vietnamese dishes in their own kitchens.

Collaborations with local restaurants and culinary schools can also play a significant role in promoting Vietnamese cuisine in Mumbai. By partnering with establishments that are passionate about global gastronomy, the Consulate General can facilitate the introduction of Vietnamese dishes to Mumbai’s vibrant food scene. This can include organizing special Vietnamese-themed menus, culinary events, and chef collaborations to attract food enthusiasts and foster cultural exchange.

Furthermore, leveraging digital platforms and social media channels helps us reach a wider audience and generate interest in Vietnamese cuisine. Sharing Vietnamese delicacy images, cooking tutorials, and stories about Vietnamese food culture piqued the curiosity of Mumbai residents and inspired them to explore Vietnamese culinary experiences.

Overall, by actively promoting Vietnamese cuisine through food festivals, culinary workshops, restaurant collaborations, and digital outreach, the Consulate General of Vietnam in Mumbai always strives to contribute to enriching Mumbai’s culinary landscape and fostering greater cultural exchange between Vietnam and India.

Diplomatist: Vietnam has made significant strides in renewable energy development. What measures is Vietnam undertaking to promote sustainable energy initiatives, and how can India and Vietnam collaborate in this sector?

Mr. Le Quang Bien: Vietnam recognizes the renewable energy sector’s crucial role in fostering both economic growth and environmental sustainability. The country has implemented a range of measures and made remarkable strides in advancing them to promote sustainable energy initiatives, including supportive policies, capacity building efforts, and infrastructure development. These initiatives aim to attract investment, build expertise, and improve the necessary infrastructure to integrate renewable energy sources into the national grid effectively.

In parallel, Vietnam actively seeks international collaboration, and India stands as a promising partner in this endeavor. India’s expertise in renewable energy technologies presents valuable opportunities for collaboration. Through technology transfer, knowledge sharing, and joint research and development initiatives, India can support Vietnam in harnessing the potential of solar, wind, and hydroelectric power generation.

Moreover, Indian companies bring substantial investment potential to Vietnam’s renewable energy market. Opportunities for joint ventures and partnerships abound, allowing for shared resources, technology exchange, and accelerated project development. Additionally, collaboration in policy exchange enables both countries to learn from each other’s experiences, leading to more effective strategies for promoting renewable energy deployment.

By leveraging their respective strengths and fostering collaboration, India and Vietnam can make significant strides in advancing renewable energy development. Together, we can contribute to achieving our sustainable development goals while addressing the urgent global imperative of combating climate change. 

Diplomatist: Vietnam has emerged as a manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia. How is the government fostering innovation and attracting foreign investment in key industries, and what potential exists for Indian companies to invest in Vietnam?

Mr. Le Quang Bien: Vietnam has emerged as a significant manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia, driven by the government’s proactive and comprehensive strategies to spur innovation and attract foreign investment across critical sectors. These strategic efforts underscore Vietnam’s commitment to economic growth and development on both domestic and international fronts. Including:

Investment Incentives: The Vietnamese government offers a range of incentives, such as tax exemptions, favourable land lease terms, and simplified administrative procedures, to attract foreign investment. These incentives are particularly tailored to pivotal industries like manufacturing, agriculture, green energy, and digital transformation, which are crucial for advancing economic development.

Promotion of Innovation: Vietnam actively nurtures innovation through various initiatives, including funding support for research and development, incubation programs for technology startups, and fostering collaborations with global partners to facilitate the exchange of technology and knowledge.

Trade Agreements: Vietnam has attached importance to and entered into numerous free trade agreements (FTAs) with strategic partners, providing access to vast markets and facilitating trade and investment flows. These agreements play a significant role in reducing trade barriers and creating favourable conditions for foreign investors to operate in Vietnam’s market.

Vietnam’s proactive approach to fostering innovation and attracting foreign investment underscores its status as a dynamic and forward-thinking economy in Southeast Asia. By implementing targeted incentives, promoting innovation, and leveraging international trade agreements, Vietnam is poised to realize its economic potential and emerge as a key player on the global stage. As Indian companies increasingly explore expansion opportunities abroad, Vietnam stands out as a compelling destination for investment, collaboration, and mutual growth.

As a result, Indian companies should not wait but expedite exploring and harnessing Vietnam’s burgeoning sectors with abundant investment prospects . The country’s thriving manufacturing landscape offers an appealing environment for Indian firms to establish production facilities or forge partnerships with local manufacturers, tapping into cost efficiencies and regional markets. For instance, Vietnam’s rich agricultural sector could present lucrative opportunities for Indian enterprises to explore collaborations in agribusiness, capitalizing on Vietnam’s fertile land and diverse crop portfolio. Additionally, Vietnam’s steadfast commitment to renewable energy and digital transformation offers promising avenues for Indian firms specializing in solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, as well as IT services, software development, and digital solutions. Furthermore, the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors in Vietnam are experiencing rapid growth, presenting Indian companies with opportunities to contribute expertise and investment in these critical areas.

Kanchi Batra
Kanchi Batra is the Managing Editor of The Diplomatist.
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