India and Vietnam on Thursday set a bilateral trade target of $7 billion for 2015 with India impressing upon Vietnam to adopt a flexible approach paving way for early conclusion of an ambitious agreement on services and investment, after the comprehensive trade in goods agreement. 

“We look forward to flexibility from Vietnam in concluding this agreement by the targeted timeline of early 2013,” Mr. Anand Sharma said after his meeting with Dr. Vu Huy Hoang, Vietnam’s Minister for Trade and Industry in New Delhi. Mr. Sharma also expressed the keenness of the Indian banks to open their branches in Vietnam, which in turn will facilitate increased trade and investment between both the countries.

Mr. Sharma informed that airline companies from both the countries have expressed interest in starting direct air operations between the two nations. During the visit of President Sang in October 2011, Vietnam Airlines and Jet Airways had signed a MoU for comprehensive cooperation, including commencing direct flights in the near future.

At the same time, Mr. Sharma raised the issue of problems related to land acquisition in Vietnam which was hampering the pace with which manufacturing industry can set up their bases in Vietnam. Mr. Sharma also highlighted that the renewal of licenses in the pharmaceutical industry is lengthy, as the renewal can only be done when the old one expires.

Mr. Sharma also said that India was considering organising an ‘India Show’ in Vietnam with the participation from more than 100 Indian companies in the near future. He also said that the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) could also organise a fashion show in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City this year.

He expressed confidence that a target of $7 billion for bilateral trade between India and Vietnam will be achieved by 2015, if the present rates of growth of trade are maintained. “It is a matter of satisfaction that our bilateral trade has witnessed a sustained and healthy growth over the years. With the implementation of India-ASEAN FTA by India and Vietnam since June 1, 2010, bilateral trade would maintain the present growth momentum and would achieve the target,’’ he added. The bilateral trade between India and Vietnam was $3.451 billion in 2010, which rose to $5.017 billion in 2011. From the period of January-September 2012, the bilateral trade between the two countries has been marked at $3.886 billion.

Mr. Sharma said that India is looking forward to Vietnam’s participation in the India-ASEAN Business Fair to be held in New Delhi in December 2012, to commemorate 20 years of our partnership with ASEAN.