Vietnam’s National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday (Dec.15) to deepen strategic ties with India, a key global player.
Hue is currently on a eight-day official visit to Vietnam’s two major strategic partners – South Korea and India – since Dec. 12 to further enhance bilateral ties and foster cooperation in various fields with them.
Hue is leading a powerful delegation consisting of Deputy Prime Minister Lê Minh Khá, several ministers, parliamentarians and senior officials.
During his five-day visit to South Asian country, both Vietnam and India will sign several memorandum of understandings (MOUs) in pharmaceutical, healthcare, communications, science and technology, environment and energy sectors.
Hue will also participate in the celebrations to commemorate the five years of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) between India and Vietnam.
Besides meeting India’s top legislative leaders and senior government officials, Hue will also attend a business forum with an intention to invite India’s top investors to Vietnam. He is expected to assure a safe environment in Vietnam for Indian investors.
Indian investors have invested $1.9 billion so far in Vietnam.
What makes Hue’s visit to India is important due to his position as National Assembly Speaker. In the Vietnamese power structure, there are four key pillars. They are the Secretary-General of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam, country’s President, Prime Minister and National Assembly Chairman.
Trusted old friend
India, the second biggest populous country in the world, is a trusted, old friend of Vietnam. Both countries established their diplomatic relations in 1972. In December 2016, Vietnam and India elevated their Strategic Partnership to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Both countries will celebrate the 50 years of their close ties in 2022.
India’s Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Indian Parliament) Om Birla and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) M. Venkaiah Naidu have invited Hue to visit India. Naidu is also the Vice President of India.
In December 2016, Hue’s predecessor Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan visited India to strengthen bilateral ties and overall cooperation between the two countries.
Despite strong strategic ties and close cooperation in various sectors, bilateral trade between the two countries only reached $11.11 billion in 2020. India imported $6.12 billion worth of goods from Vietnam and exported $4.99 billion worth of goods to the Southeast Asian country.
During the first 10 months of 2021, bilateral trade reached $10 billion, a 37 percent increase from the same period in 2020.
With 1.39 billion people and a $3.23 trillion gross domestic product (GDP), India offers a huge potential for rising Vietnam. Unfortunately, India is not a part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) or the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), whereas Vietnam is a member of both.
Hue will discuss new ways and means to boost trade and people-to-people contacts between the two countries in the coming years.
Both countries have similar views about various international issues. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in April 2021 that Vietnam and India share a similar vision of an open, inclusive, peaceful, and rules-based world order and the strategic Indian Ocean Region. He emphasized that the India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership can contribute to promote regional stability, prosperity, and development.
During the recent Political Consultations in November, both countries “agreed to enhance their bilateral cooperation in line with India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and the ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific to achieve shared security, prosperity and growth for all in the region”.
Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) was launched by Modi in 2009, while ASEAN adopted the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) in 2019.
Both India and Vietnam have problems with China. Vietnam has overlapping claims with China in the South China Sea (SCS), while India has border conflicts with China. India had a war with China in 1962, while Vietnam had a war with China in 1979. The issue of China binds Vietnam and India together.
Both India and Vietnam must fully support ASEAN’s efforts in reducing tensions in the SCS, maintaining the freedom of navigation and right to overflight in the SCS. There should be a rules-based order in the region. They should extend support and solidarity for Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, who became the victims of an aggressive China in the SCS.
Prior to India visit, Hue visited South Korea from Dec. 12-15 to reshape the strategic ties between Vietnam and Korea.
He was invited by South Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug.
Both Hue and Park hold important talks in Seoul on Monday. In fact, Park visited Vietnam in November 2020.