OM Birla: the president of Lok Sabha visits Vietnam this week to reaffirm his strategic and ecological partnership

Lok Sabha Chairman Om Birla is embarking on a three-day visit to Vietnam to strengthen strategic and economic partnership as part of the celebration of 50 years of establishment of diplomatic relations.

Birla will meet the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Vietnamese Prime Minister shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s conversation with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

During the phone call last Friday, the Prime Minister reiterated the importance of Vietnam as an important pillar of India’s Act East Policy and Indo-Pacific vision and had an in-depth dialogue on the situation at sea. from southern China where China is upping the ante. The Prime Minister also called for greater facilitation of market access for Indian pharmaceutical and agro-food products in Vietnam.

India and Vietnam often support each other in regional and international forums like the IPU and exchange experiences on parliamentary issues through high-level visits. Birla’s visit reaffirms this aspect of the relationship as well as the effective cooperation between the two parliaments. Vuong Dinh Hue, the current speaker of the National Assembly of Vietnam, visited India last December.

Birla’s visit is significant to show India’s support for Hanoi as China has started sending its most advanced fighter jet, the J-20, to patrol the East and South China Seas. The deployment aims to “better protect China’s airspace security and maritime interests”, Chinese state media Global Times reported last Wednesday, citing military experts.

China claims almost all of the vast South China Sea (SCS) as its sovereign territory. He built and militarized his installations there, turning the islands into military bases and airstrips. India has repeatedly insisted on maintaining freedom of navigation and peaceful settlement of disputes in the SCS region on the basis of UNCLOS. The India-Vietnam partnership is essential for maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The past 50 years of partnership have gone from strength to strength. The first-ever Virtual India-Vietnam Summit was co-chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc on December 21, 2020. The two Foreign and Defense Ministers have been in regular contact. Indian President Ram Nath Kovind paid a state visit to Vietnam from November 18 to 20, 2018. Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee paid a state visit to Vietnam in September 2014. Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu visited Vietnam from May 09 to 12, 2019 to deliver a keynote speech during the celebration of the 16th United Nations Vesak Day. Modi paid an official visit to Vietnam in 2016. India is one of only three countries (along with Russia and China) with which Vietnam has a comprehensive strategic partnership. In 1992 India and Vietnam established extensive economic ties including oil exploration, agriculture and manufacturing. Relations between the two countries, especially defense ties, have greatly benefited from India’s Act East policy.

Both India and Vietnam are members of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, established to develop and strengthen the close ties between India and Southeast Asian countries. Vietnam has supported India’s bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council and join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). In the 2003 joint declaration, India and Vietnam envisioned creating an “Arc of Advantage and Prosperity” in Southeast Asia. To this end, Vietnam has supported increasing the importance of relations between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). India and Vietnam cooperated closely when Vietnam was also a non-permanent member of the UNSC.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was signed between the two countries in 2016. Since then, the two countries have presented to the World Trade Organization and the United Nations the case for promoting global cooperation in the south, the mitigation of the effects of climate change, maritime security, renewable energies, the promotion of culture and other aspects concerning developing countries.

Vietnam has become one of India’s biggest partners in Asean and plays an important role in its Act East policy. Given the importance of ASEAN, promoting practical relations between ASEAN and India would result in peace in the region. In a changing and unstable world, India and Vietnam now have the opportunity to cooperate in terms of economic recovery, sustainable development and contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the regions, including the sea. of southern China, Myanmar and to contribute to the creation of a rules-based system. Ordered.

India has a long-standing development partnership with Vietnam which has made positive contributions to capacity building, sustainable development goals and socio-economic development in Vietnam. India has also provided assistance to Vietnam within the framework of ASEAN. Under the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC), India has undertaken Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), each valued at US$50,000, in different provinces of Vietnam for community infrastructure development.

With their short gestation period, QIPs bring direct benefits to grassroots communities. So far, since 2017, 18 QIPs have been completed in 17 provinces of Vietnam, while 8 new projects are being implemented during 2020-21 in 5 provinces. In addition, 7 grant aid projects for the benefit of the Cham community in Ninh Thuan province were completed in December 2020 with an expenditure of about US$1.54 million. India is also providing technical assistance worth US$2.25 million for the conservation and restoration of ancient Cham monuments located in Quang Nam province in Vietnam, showcasing the deep civilizational connection between the two countries.

Bilateral investments are also increasing. India’s investments in Vietnam are estimated at around $1.9 billion, including investments channeled through third countries. According to the Vietnam Foreign Investment Agency, as of April 2021, India had 299 valid projects with a total invested capital of US$909.5 million, ranking 26th among countries and territories investing in Vietnam. India’s main investment sectors are energy, mineral exploration, agro-industry, sugar, tea, coffee manufacturing, agrochemicals, IT and automotive components. Vietnam’s investments in India 10. In 2020, Vietnam had six investment projects in India with an estimated total investment of US$28.55 million, mainly in the fields of pharmaceuticals, information technology, chemicals and building materials.

Vietnam has been a major beneficiary of training programs under India’s Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. Vietnam receives more than 200 training slots per year, including more than 130 training slots under ITEC/Colombo Plan Civil and Technical Cooperation program and another 70 training slots under ITEC (defense) . Besides, Indian Council of Cultural Relations offers several annual scholarship programs including 14 scholarships under EEP/CEP (Educational Exchange Program/Cultural Exchange Program); 10 under MGCSS (Mekong Ganga Cooperation Scholarship Scheme); 20 under the GSS (General Scholarship Scheme); and 4 Buddhist and Sanskrit scholarships. The use of the annual training slots and scholarships offered has always been very high. The recent initiative of the Indian government launched in October 2019 to offer a PhD scholarship program in association with 23 IITs for 1000 students from ASEAN countries, has also received a good response from Vietnam. Vietnam was also among a select group of partner countries where the Indian government launched the new e-ITEC program in October 2019.

India has strong marine-to-marine cooperation with Vietnam and is one of the few countries with which Vietnam conducts naval exercises. Hanoi allows the Indian Navy to dock at the ports of Halong Nha Trang Bay, which it has asked India to develop, and Cam Ranh Bay. Under a $100 million line of credit provided by the Indian government, a high-speed guard boat manufacturing project has been launched for the Vietnam Border Guard Command. India handed over the first boat during the 2020 virtual summit between Prime Ministers Modi and Phuc. Two more Indian-made boats have been launched and seven more will be built in Vietnam. India has oil exploration projects in Vietnamese waters of the South China Sea.

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