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Today, you will read Current Affair Topic:
Vietnam Could Help In Maintaining Long Term INDIA ASEAN Strategic Ties
During the initial years after the independence, India and Vietnam had close relations as leaders in both the nations – Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam had socialistic inclination. Importance of Vietnam for India further increased post the end of cold war era when India tried to forge increased partnership with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) given the fact that Vietnam is an important member of ASEAN. Vietnam is probably the only country in the world which has successfully challenged the might of the United States. The year 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between India and Vietnam as well as the 20th anniversary of partnership between India and ASEAN.
When Vietnam joined ASEAN in July 1995, it became the first Indochinese country to join ASEAN, and its integration with it helped in ending the confrontation between the Indochinese bloc and ASEAN. Vietnam has also helped the ASEAN to partner with India apart from other non-regional players including China, Russia and the European Union (EU). There is no element of doubt that both ASEAN and India are dominant regional powers in Asia and no country trying to increase its presence in Asia can afford to ignore them. In 1993, ASEAN further elevated its position in the region by forming the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) whose objective were to foster cooperation on political and security issues of common interest and concern along with making efforts towards confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region.
Enhanced cooperation between India and ASEAN is beneficial for both not just for diplomatic reasons but also for economic, cultural, political, energy and technological benefits. The Indo-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement came into effect in 2010 and in 2014, India has formally signed a free trade agreement for services and investments with ASEAN. The services agreement will open up opportunities of movement of both manpower and investments. The pact will allow India to leverage its competitive edge in the areas of finance, education, health, IT, telecommunications and transport.
Though the agreement on services and investment has been signed, but it may take long time to take into effect after being ratified by every member of ASEAN. In the meanwhile India can increase the cooperation with individual nations to improve it position in ASEAN as a whole. As a part of such cooperation, India should attempt to revive the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) which has been ignored by the partners for quite some time. MGC emphasises cooperation in tourism, culture, education, and transportation linkages among India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Though Vietnam is not India’s largest trade partner among ASEAN members, bilateral trade between India and Vietnam has seen continuous growth over the past few years. India is now among the top ten trading partners of Vietnam. Bilateral trade between two has touched US$ 6.1 billion in 2012. Exports from India were US$ 4 billion exports and imports 2.1 billion. According to Vietnam's official data, total trade volume touched US$ 5.2 billion in 2013. Five key items exported to India were mobile phones and components, machinery, computers & electronic hardware, natural rubber, chemicals and coffee. The five biggest products imported from India were animal feed, corn, steel pharmaceuticals and machinery. Thus Vietnam cannot be ignored if India wants to have favourable trade ties with ASEAN.
In the field of defence cooperation, India made the unprecedented offer of a US$100 million line of credit to Vietnam for the purchase of four Offshore Patrol Vessels. This was India’s first offer of credit for the purchase of military equipment to a country outside of South Asia. India and Vietnam are reportedly negotiating the sale of the BrahMos cruise missile to Vietnam as well as cooperation in defence co-production.
Maritime security is another field where India and ASEAN have converging objectives. Recently, Foreign Minister of Vietnam stated that the future development and integration of India and ASEAN lay in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean as a result as a result of this fact, India, Vietnam, and other ASEAN nations should focus on maintaining maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and settling territorial disputes through peaceful means on the basis of international law. It is evident that Vietnam is having a maritime dispute with China in East Sea, also known as South China internationally. Improved ties with Vietnam can give India access to South China Sea which is an oil rich region.
Indo-Vietnamese ties seem set to improve as both countries have a strong interest in cooperating on defence and trade issues due to a mutual distrust of China. Since India can counter balance the dominant position of China in the region, strong ties with Vietnam will definitely help India to forge longer and deeper ties with ASEAN.