Visit to Viet Nam by Indian Lok Sabha Speaker: To add a new momentum in Viet Nam-India relationship
|India's Ambassador to Viet Nam Pranay Verma. (Source: The India's embassy in Ha Noi)
The visit of Speaker of the India’s Lok Sabha Om Birla takes place in the context that the two countries are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations. Could you please share with us the meanings and main focuses of the visit?
The Speaker of our Lok Sabha (House of the People) visited Viet Nam from 19-21 April at the invitation of the Chairman of the National Assembly of Viet Nam. This was the first high-level visit between India and Viet Nam this year when the two countries are commemorating the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. The visit also held great significance for us as it took place during the 75th year of India’s independence.
India and Viet Nam have a long history of Parliamentary contacts, which constitute an important pillar of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. An important feature of such Parliamentary contacts is regular exchange of visits at the leadership level to promote better understanding, strengthen legislative cooperation and deepen consultation on issues of our national importance.
The visit of Lok Sabha Speaker was aimed at strengthening the Parliamentary exchanges between our two countries. The fact that the visit took place just four months after the visit of the Chairman of National Assembly of Viet Nam is another indicator of the importance attached by our Parliaments to our bilateral relations. As representatives of people, exchanges between our Parliaments are an important channel to reflect the popular support our relationship enjoys.
The visit was also part of high-level diplomatic exchanges to strengthen our multidimensional Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The discussions held during the visit with Viet Nam’s top leaders touched upon various aspects of our bilateral relations, including management of COVID-19 pandemic, trade and investment cooperation, energy and defence partnership, tourism and cultural exchanges and so on, and gave both sides an opportunity to reach important understandings.
There was also exchange of views on important regional and international issues of common interest. Overall, the visit of our Lok Sabha Speaker reaffirmed Viet Nam’s key position in our Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision.
What are the outstanding efforts of the two sides in implementing the 2021-2023 Plan of Action for bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership and the Viet Nam-India Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People adopted in December 2020?
The Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People adopted by our Prime Ministers during their Virtual Summit in December 2020 provides the blueprint for the future development of our bilateral relations. The Plan of Action signed by our Foreign Ministers is a detailed programme for the implementation of the Joint Vision for a three year period from 2021-2023.
Despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to make forward strides in all the areas identified in the Joint Vision and Plan of Action.
Our political relations continue to be marked by frequent high-level contacts including through virtual platforms. Most recently, Prime Minister Modi and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong had a very successful telephone call on 15 April. The visit of the Chairman of National Assembly to India in December 2021 and the latest visit of our Lok Sabha Speaker to Viet Nam have added a new momentum in our political relationship.
Our trade and economic engagement has also maintained a positive momentum. Our bilateral trade crossed USD 13 billion in 2021 despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic. We are now focused on raising the trade to USD 15 billion as soon as possible. As our economies are recovering after the pandemic, our investors are looking at opportunities in each other’s country with greater interest.
Our defence partnership is growing rapidly. Our militaries have maintained constant exchanges. Last year, four Indian naval ships visited Viet Nam and our navies conducted exercises together. Our USD 100 million defence Line of Credit has been fully implemented, helping Viet Nam acquire new maritime and defence manufacturing capabilities.
The implementation of the Army Software Park at the Telecommunications University in Nha Trang with USD 5 million grant assistance from India is moving ahead. Our cooperation in UN Peacekeeping has been further strengthened with exchanges between our peacekeeping troops in South Sudan.
Our Development Partnership with Quick Impact Projects are creating community infrastructure which are benefiting local communities in 33 provinces of Viet Nam and contributing to Viet Nam’s Sustainable Development Goals. We are also collaborating in newer areas such as developmental applications of civil nuclear and space technology.
Our cultural exchanges have achieved new levels through archaeological conservation projects at the iconic heritage site at My Son. We are going to take up more such projects at other historical sites in Viet Nam.
Our people-to-people ties are going to receive new boost with resumption of direct flights this month. We want to significantly step up our tourism exchanges, including by leveraging our shared Buddhist heritage.
On the multilateral level, what are the prospects for cooperation between the two countries in the coming time?
Multilaterally, India and Viet Nam are engaged significantly. India considers Viet Nam to be an important pillar of its Act East Policy as well as its Indo-Pacific vision. We have excellent coordination in ASEAN. Similarly in the United Nations, India and Viet Nam concurrently served in the United Nations Security Council as non-permanent members last year and coordinated closely on many global issues.
In August last year, when India chaired the United Nations Security Council, our Prime Minister hosted a Special Open Debate on Maritime Security where the Prime Minister of Viet Nam was one of the key invitees.
Today, as the world is facing new uncertainties, cooperation and coordination between India and Viet Nam stand to contribute to a free, open, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region governed by international law.
The strong convergence between India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and ASEAN’s Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) create new opportunities for practical cooperation between us in areas such as maritime security, blue economy, marine ecology, connectivity etc.