HCM CITY (VNS)— India and Viet Nam have yet to exploit efficiently the vast business potential that exists between both countries although they have enjoyed a very close relationship since 1954, officials of both sides said at a seminar yesterday.
|An employee of Van Hung Export & Processing Tea Co operates a tea processing line. India is one of the traditional export markets of Vietnamese tea. — VNA/VNS Photo Hong Ky
"The volume of bilateral trade and Indian investment in Viet Nam is still low though the latter is party to the India–ASEAN Free Trade Agreement which was signed in 2009," they said.
Less than one year after the agreement, India officially implemented the Free Trade Agreement with Viet Nam by slashing duties on hundreds of products, including seafood, chemicals, apparel and tyres.
The trade volume between India and ASEAN in 2011–12 was expected at US$70 billion, but the figure is $80 billion now. By 2015, the trade volume is expected to rise to $100 billion.
However, bilateral trade between Viet Nam and India reached only $3.9 billion last year. The two countries have set a target of boosting the figure to $7 billion by 2015.
Shri Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of the northeastern Indian state of Assam, said: "The two countries have set up an ambitious target of bilateral trade of $7 billion by 2015. I am confident that leaders of business communities from both sides will work together to not only achieve but also surpass the target."
During yesterday's business seminar on "Potential Opportunities for Boosting Indo–Viet Nam Trade Investment," Ranjit Rae, Indian Ambassador to Viet Nam, said, "though bilateral trade has been slow recently, it should soar to much higher levels in the future."
"Indian enterprises have invested $800 million into Viet Nam, which is not much because Indian firms are investing everywhere in the world," Rae said. He suggested that both sides look into reasons why they have a very good relationship but the number of investment projects is still limited.
According to HCM City's Department of Planning and Investment, the city received only 22 Indian invested projects out of a total of 381 foreign direct investment projects registered as of November this year.
A department representative said the city had better luck than other localities because it received most of the Indian invested projects in the country.
Le Phuoc Vu, Chairman of the Viet Nam – India Business Forum as also Chairman of the Hoa Sen Group, agreed that there was huge potential for business co-operation between the two countries.
"Viet Nam is highly populated. Labour cost is cheap and workers are clever. The two nations have a very good political relationship," he said, calling for more regular opportunities for enterprises of both countries to meet each other.
Le Trieu Dung, deputy head of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department, under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said the trade volume between India and Viet Nam has not matched potential. "The rate of tariffs remains high on several types of commodities,"he said.
Pradipta K Mohapatra, leader of the Confederation of Indian Industry business delegation, invited Vietnamese enterprises to co-operate in crafting jewelry with precious stones, in which Indian enterprises have done well with Thai partners.
Viet Nam has invited Indian businessmen to invest in sectors such as healthcare, oil & gas, manufacturing and agro-industry, officials said at the seminar. — VNS