Our Bureau

Kolkata, March 7

Industry in West Bengal has identified the scope for enhanced two-way trade and investment between India and Vietnam. A nine-member business delegation from West Bengal, which recently accompanied the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, on the latter's visit to Vietnam, has identified sectors such as information technology, biotechnology, education, iron and steel, automobile and auto ancillaries, food processing and marine products processing as areas for greater Indo-Vietnamese economic co-operation.

In 2005, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $696.50 million.

A Protocol of Co-operation was also signed in Hochiminh City on March 3, 2006 between the Indian Chamber of Commerce and the Hochiminh City branch of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Economic exchange

The Protocol of Exchange is aimed at promoting economic exchange in the areas of trade and investment between the two countries. It will facilitate the exchange of economic data and information that would support the enhancement of business and trade. The two chambers have agreed to provide information and co-operate with each other with regard to symposiums, conventions and important events held by the respective organisations. The protocol will also facilitate exchange of visits by business delegations from both the countries and help organise business meetings in each other's countries.

Addressing a news conference here today, Mr Roopen Roy, Managing Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a member of the delegation that visited Vietnam, said a small country like Vietnam with a population of 83 million people attracts foreign direct investment of $5 billion annually. With restructuring of the economy, Vietnam offers huge opportunities for Indian companies engaged in IT, IT services and education.

Apt for steel cos

According to Mr Biswadip Gupta, Managing Director of Vesuvius India, and a member of the delegation, Vietnam is an ideal location for steel companies that want to leverage on "split integration" and service the ASEAN market. "Steel companies can take semi-finished products to Vietnam and complete the finishing work there before selling the finished products in the huge ASEAN market," he said. Likewise, West Bengal could be a base for manufacture of forgings and automobile parts that could be used by the two-wheeler industry in Vietnam.

Mr Nazeeb Arif, Secretary General of Indian Chamber of Commerce, said direct air links between Kolkata and Vietnam would provide a big boost to bilateral trade and investment.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 8, 2006)
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