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Vietnam-India direct flight to generate more trade, investment: Consul General

Vietnam-India direct flight to generate more trade, investment: Consul General

Friday, September 05, 2014, 10:56 GMT+7

The first-ever daily direct flight between Vietnam and India, set to be begin in November, will bring more opportunities to the peoples of the two countries, especially in terms of trade, tourism, and education, Smita Pant, Consul General of India in Ho Chi Minh City, told Tuoi Tre News in a recent exclusive interview.

The daily flight, from Ho Chi Minh City to New Delhi/Mumbai and vice versa, is scheduled to begin on November 6.

What do you think the new direct air route can bring to the two countries and their people?

We hope it will help realize many untapped potentials in the fields of trade-investment, education, and tourism between the two countries.

Just before coming to Vietnam, I met with many Indian businesspeople from some local business chambers there, and they are all eager about new air connectivity with Vietnam, an attractive market with a lot of potential to be realized.

The tourism sector will also benefit from it, as it will generate more revenue for both countries. While many Vietnamese people will be able to fly to India for their dreamed religious pilgrimages, Indians can now visit Vietnam to learn more about the country and its people.   

Many Indians are fascinated by Ho Chi Minh City, specifically, and Vietnam, in general, and they told me in the meetings they want to visit HCMC as soon as the new air route come into effect. They want to visit the country, understand the people, and look for business opportunities.

Doing business is a straightforward question of how comfortable we are dealing with each other, and how warm businesspeople feel when doing business here in Vietnam. Indians really feel welcome in Vietnam, and they also love the country.

Moreover, they are looking at Vietnam as a long-term strategic trade partner.

In addition, Indian-invested firms in Vietnam are also very excited about the opening of the new air route, as it will facilitate more trade and investment opportunities. There are some 100-120 Indian firms based mostly in the southern region of Vietnam.

Though two-way trade reached US$936 million in 2013, state agencies and the business communities of both countries are trying to reach $7 billion by 2015.

What is your future plan of action?

We have a very ambitious plan of action focused on boosting trade and investment relationships between the two countries. We will also pay attention to boosting tourism by linking up with both Vietnamese and Indian tourism agencies, and work to create capacity development programs for state agencies in southern Vietnam.

We all know that the modern diplomatic relations between Vietnam and India were built by former President Ho Chi Minh and his Indian counterpart, Jawaharlal Nehru, so the duty of the Indian diplomatic mission is to raise it to a higher level.  

What is your overall feeling about Ho Chi Minh City?

It is very positive. Just five days after arriving in the city, I really felt in love with the city and the warmth of the local people. I came to the city from Thailand at night, and really felt that I was a part of it after just a few days.

The new direct flight was announced after a meeting between Pham Binh Minh, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and visiting Indian Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, in Hanoi on August 25.

The new air route will be operated by Indian carrier Jet Airways from November 2014.

The new direct flight is expected to offer favorable conditions for economic activities, culture, and tourism for both sides, according to an announcement released after the meeting.

In addition to discussing the route, the two sides pledged to create favorable conditions for businesses to strengthen investment cooperation.

Vietnam welcomes Indian firms to participate in such fields as energy, oil and gas exploration, exploitation, processing, construction, and pharmaceuticals, Deputy Prime Minister Minh said.

The two countries aim to bring trade turnover to $7 billion in 2015 and $15 billion by 2020, as agreed by the previous senior leaders.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries date back almost five decades to meetings between the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Vietnam's then President Ho Chi Minh to seal the mutual relationships.

The rapport has been preserved, nurtured, and further developed by generations of politicians from both countries over the last 50 years.

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Thoai Tran/Tuoi Tre News

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