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Ambassador’s Remarks at the India-Vietnam Investment Forum

Posted on: January 22, 2021 | Back | Print

Good Morning to you all!

It gives me great pleasure having you all join us today for this India-Vietnam Investment Forum.  This is one of the major activities that the Consulate General of India in Ho Chi Minh City has undertaken at the beginning of the New Year, to highlight a particularly important aspect of our bilateral relationship.

I am thankful to the Government leaders of Vietnam who are present today. I recognize H.E. Mr. Tran Duy Dong, Deputy Minister of Planning & Investment, H.E. Mr. Le Hoa Binh, Vice Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, and Vietnam’s Ambassador to India, H.E. Mr. Pham Sanh Chau. We also thank CEO of VinaCapital, Mr. Don Lam for his active support to this event. I also welcome leaders from several provinces of Vietnam to this event today which is a manifestation of the interest that our relationship has attracted in Vietnam.

From India, we have Ms. Sumita Dawra, Additional Secretary from Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and Mr. Deepak Bagla, CEO of Invest India, and of course my colleague Dr. Madan Mohan Sethi, Consul General of India in HCM City.

As I said, economic partnership is one of the key pillars of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between India and Vietnam.  We are one of the very few comprehensive strategic partners that Vietnam has, which itself denotes the significance of this relationship. 

At the recently held Virtual Summit between our Prime Ministers on 21st December last year, they adopted a historic “Joint vision for Peace, Prosperity and People”. The Joint Vision notes that recognizing the strong complementarities based on India’s large domestic market and vision of self-reliance on the one hand, and Vietnam’s growing economic vitality and capabilities on the other, both sides will constantly upgrade their economic engagement by facilitating long-term investments in each other’s economies, promoting joint ventures, and engaging in new global value chains.

This emphasis on long-term investment in each other’s economy is what we are going to discuss at today’s seminar.

The role of investment in economic ties – quite apart from trading relationship – cannot be over-emphasized.  Investment provides a channel for building strong linkages between economies. It creates long-term stakes in each other’s economies and strengths. 

The current status of our investment relationship with Vietnam is like the glass “half full or half empty”, depending on how you would like to look at it. We have, of course, come a long way from where we were twenty years ago. But we still have a long way to go if we want to take our trade and investment ties to levels commensurate with our economic potential and with the fact that both India and Vietnam are among the fastest growing economies of the world today.

So, currently we have about US$ 900 billion of investment from India in Vietnam. If one adds the investment routed through third countries, it will amount to US$ 1.9 billon.  The major areas of focus of Indian investment in Vietnam so far are energy, minerals, agro-processing, agro-chemicals, IT, auto components and so on.  On the other hand, the Vietnamese investment in India is still quite limited – about US$ 30 billion, largely in pharmaceutical, building materials, IT and chemicals. 

Therefore, we really need to look beyond what we are doing today and identify new areas and explore new opportunities. As I said, given the fact that both India and Vietnam are two of the world’s fastest growing economies, our trade and investment engagement clearly has a lot of ground to cover.

The four areas where we plan to have thematic discussions today – infrastructure, energy including renewable energy, IT and pharmaceuticals – are all very relevant today, where both India and Vietnam have strengths, capacities and market demands.

Together, we look forward to discussing ways to promote more cooperation, more intense engagement in each of these sectors. 

Pharmaceuticals is an excellent example where we must step up our engagement, given the fact that India is globally recognized as the Pharmacy of the World. We are one of the largest producers of pharmaceuticals in the world.  India is manufacturing nearly 2/3rd of the whole world’s total vaccine production.  Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, India has been a major provider of pharmaceuticals to more than 150 countries. Just last week, on January 16th, we launched the world’s largest ever vaccination drive against COVID-19 with two Made-in-India vaccines, which showcases the fact that India’s pharmaceutical capabilities have been a major contributor to the global fight against COVID-19.  

Similarly, renewable energy is a priority focus for both our countries.  In our energy mix, India is going to ambitiously raise the share of renewable energy, aiming at 450 GW of power from renewable by 2030, and 40% of power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. This clean energy ambition is part of our effort to reduce the emissions intensity of our economy by 33-35% by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels. India’s global initiative of International Solar Alliance is a fine example of how ambitious our plans are to ramp up our renewable energy capabilities. As Vietnam, too, looks at renewable energy as a focus area, this clearly is a sector of converging policy priorities for both our countries and therefore, one with immense potential for investment and economic engagement.

Digital economy is another exciting area for cooperation. Both India and Vietnam have ambitious plans for digital economy and for embracing industry 4.0.  In India, we have the “Digital India” campaign which is ramping up our digital economy capacities. In Vietnam, you have the “Digital Society” vision that will raise the level of digital economy to 20% of GDP by 2025 and 30% by 2030.  This converging policy focus presents economic opportunities that we should be cognizant of and must seize.

Another new area where we should look at our engagement is Start-Ups. Both our countries have youthful demographics, where innovation is being given much importance and where start-ups are making meaningful contributions to our national development.

Many other emerging areas, such as Smart Cities, climate resilient technologies – and the list can go on – open new frontiers for our engagement.

I would urge that when you discuss the possibilities today, please do explore not just what we are doing, but also what we can do in the future, identifying new areas of cooperation.

We are happy that today’s forum will give us an opportunity to explore not just the Indian investment coming into Vietnam, but also Vietnamese investment going into India. I believe that Vietnam’s capabilities in urban infrastructure, in manufacturing, in food and agricultural processing can be of great value for Indian market. I would be happy to see some discussion taking place today on Vietnam’s investment potential in India in these segments.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

We have set an economic vision of making India a US$ 5 trillion economy over the coming years. This is not just a number that we are talking about. This is also about providing good governance; enabling grassroots empowerment through participation and technology; and achieving sustainable and inclusive development. This journey from our current US$ 3 trillion economy to US$ 5 trillion economy is going to create capacities and demands which will throw open significant opportunities for our close partners like Vietnam, to engage in our growth story and benefit from it.

India values Vietnam as an important pillar of its Act East policy and its Indo-Pacific Vision. In both these constructs, we place a lot of importance on 3 C’s – Connectivity, Commerce and Culture. The focus of today’s seminar dovetails with these policies and with the emphasis that we place on our engagement with Vietnam under those policies.  Our seminar’s focus on investment relations, as I said, will help in building long-term linkages in wide ranging areas between our two economies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hopefully, we have started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, taking us out of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many lessons and realizations that we have learnt over the last one year’s experience in dealing with this pandemic.

In India, one of the biggest realizations that we have had is that we need to have a self-reliant India.  The Prime Minister’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat – which is the Indian phrase for “Self-Reliant India” - is one of the paramount policy focusses that we currently have.  This vision of “self-reliance” is not about isolationism, but about building capacities at home so that we can become better contributors to the global well-being, integrate more effectively in the global value chains, and be of greater utility to our partners.  A “self-reliant India” will be an important platform on which we can build our economic engagement with Vietnam. This is recognized in the Joint Vision adopted by our two Prime Ministers on 21st December 2020.

We also have this belief that India’s post-pandemic economic revival will lead the global economic revival. India’s strengths and capabilities, which will be developed as we come out of the shadows of the pandemic, will not just create grounds for India’s future growth, but will also be the engine for global growth, generating opportunities for our partners, such as Vietnam.

And to seize this moment, to turn this crisis into an opportunity, in India, our Government is undertaking far-reaching reforms in a wide range of areas – from labour to land, from agriculture to manufacturing, from education to MSMEs – all aiming at India’s revival in a big way and with the confidence that the India that will emerge after the pandemic will be a stronger India than the one we saw before the pandemic.  And on this path, we will create opportunities for all our partners.

As Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has said, India offers our partners three O’s – Opportunity, Openness and Options. We hope that this seminar will open a new door for deeper investment and economic engagement between our two countries.

I wish you all a very fruitful discussion.

Thank you very much!