India and Vietnam are old civilisations with spiritual connections: President Kovind
President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday hailed Vietnam's "spectacular" economic growth in the last two decades, as he called for Vietnamese collaboration in India's flagship government programmes to boost bilateral trade, technology and investment relations.
Addressing the Vietnam-India Business Forum here, Kovind said India and Vietnam are old civilisations with ancient cultural and spiritual connections.
"But the story of our engagement is much broader. Traders and merchants from India brought goods and commodities to the shores of Vietnam long before the arrival of cultural thought and expression. There was a flourishing maritime connect in the days gone by. And, to our desire, trade continues to be a driving force in our contemporary partnership," he said.
"In the last eight years, we have seen an almost four-fold increase in bilateral trade, from USD 3.7 billion in 2010 to USD 12.8 billion last year. With both Vietnam and India on a strong growth path, we can expect this trend to continue apace," he said.
The president said on the trade front, the two nations are doing well as they are on track to achieve the target of USD 15 billion in bilateral trade by the year 2020.
Kovind said India's growth presents opportunities for two-way engagement in financial services, IT, digital economy, hydrocarbons, defence, renewable energy, mining, health care, tourism and civil aviation sectors.
"We want Vietnam to collaborate with us in our flagship programmes - Make In India, Clean India, Start-up India and Digital India. We are also keen to learn from it in the tourism and urban infrastructure sectors," he said.
Kovind said transformative reforms such as the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has made India, a country of 1.3 billion people, into 'One Nation, One Tax, One Market' for the first time in her history.
He said due to the success of this and other reforms, India has jumped 65 places - from 142 in 2014 to 77 in 2018 - in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index.
"Our macroeconomic indicators are robust: inflation well under control at 3.3 per cent, foreign exchange reserves at a healthy USD 400 billion and our Foreign Direct Investment flows at over USD 200 billion in the last four years," he said.
"Vietnam and India are not just special friends, we also have a similar economic vision and approach. Vietnam has seen spectacular economic growth in the last two decades. This has allowed reduction of the poverty rate from over 70 per cent in the 1990s to less than 10 per cent now," he said, adding that the increase in per capita GDP of Vietnam from less than USD 100 in 1990 to over USD 2,500 today is a remarkable achievement with very few parallels in the developing world.
"I congratulate the people and government of Vietnam on this stupendous success. I invite Indian and Vietnamese businesses to partner with each other for trade, technology and investment collaboration," the president said.
Kovind is in Vietnam as part of his two-nation tour that will also take him to Australia.
(With inputs from agencies.)