India’s World: India-Vietnam Bilateral Ties
President of Vietnam Tran Dai Quang was in India on a 3 day visit which saw the signing of 3 MoUs on nuclear cooperation, agriculture and trade. Each of these are set to tighten India’s ties in light of its Act East policy. Quang also backed India’s permanent membership in UN Security Council. Recently Prime Minister of Vietnam had also participated in India’s Republic Day Parade in January 2018.
- Both the states expressed immense satisfaction on comprehensive strategic partnership. The position in South East Asia has been changing rapidly and the two countries India and Vietnam need to interact at the highest political level from time to time. The recent visit has shown that there are various areas in which the two countries can work together.
- India-Vietnam relation has completed about 45 years of diplomatic bilateral relations. Concerns and ambitions of both the countries are quite similar. The relationship has been progressing very well in the past decade and that is why such specific MoUs in fields of nuclear, agriculture have been made.
- India has been consistently supporting the Freedom of Navigation, unimpeded flow of commerce and it is supporting Vietnamese and some positions of some other nations in relation to South China Sea. India is adhering to international laws and UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
- Vietnam supports India’s Act East Policy and it believes that India can do a lot of balancing in South Asia as far as other powers are concerned. India is expected by Vietnam and other South East Asian countries to play a stronger role in the region – on the strategic (Indo Pacific issue) and on the economic side. But, bilateral economic ties and trade need to be improved more between India and ASEAN countries if strategic relations are to be improved. China has relatively better economic relations with South East Asian countries which is a cause of concern for India.
- Shared common security perceptions and strategic convergence in Indo-Pacific region propel both the countries to have good defence and security cooperation. Maritime security cooperation was talked in ASEAN India commemorative summit. Vietnam and India have been cooperating in many ways like in Milan exercises. Many other South East Asian countries are also participating in these exercises. India has been providing training to Vietnamese submarines.
- Some of the ASEAN countries including Vietnam are interested in building ties with the Quad group (India, US, Japan and Australia). To counter the presence of China which has been rising very rapidly relations with other countries like India and Quad group is important for Vietnam.
- Energy sector is a crucial area where much can be done like deals of ONGC with Vietnamese companies. But, China has been raising concerns about this.
- Trilateral highway is expected to be ready in the next 5 years between India, Myanmar and Thailand and, its extension to Vietnam would be also a reality. This will help in driving directly from Indian soil to Vietnam.
- India and Vietnam have been looking at partners for Oil and Gas exploration which may be Japan, Russia, etc. But, the geopolitics in the region involved may preclude it.
- India and Vietnam need to do more in many areas like defence weapons systems, missiles, etc and also in helping Vietnam in establishing their indigenous defence industry.
- There are many institutions in Vietnam which study about India. But, such study in India about Vietnam had been lacking. A Centre for Vietnamese study in New Delhi was launched by the president of Vietnam which is quite historic. He also spoke that the relation can be improved not only by interactions by businessmen but also by citizens at large.
Time bound delivery of specific projects between India and ASEAN countries should be looked at. Relation roles in the fields of political, economic, strategic field including defence and security which are in the upward trajectory. It can be expected that political relations get improved in the coming 5 years when the diplomatic relations complete 50 years between the two nations. But India needs to improve economic ties with Vietnam to achieve the set target up to 2020. Scholars have now been saying that BIMSTEC which has two South East Asian countries namely, Myanmar and Thailand should consider to expand itself to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Then it will be a very powerful body and lasting link between India and ASEAN.