The ongoing visit of Vice-President, Hamid Ansari to Vietnam may be largely ceremonial in nature but the two sides are also using the opportunity to push trade and business ties and indeed the larger bilateral relationship.

While a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) was signed between the two countries on Tuesday, the Vietnam’s Vice-President NguyenThi Doan, made a strong pitch for development of ties in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and space research.

Speaking at the closing ceremony commemorating 40 years of friendship and 5 years of strategic partnership between the two countries, Ms. Doan said: “We believe… India will continue to share with Vietnam your valuable experience in… information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, satellite and space technologies, pharmaceutical industry… and oil extraction.”

She invited Indian companies to invest in Vietnam’s infrastructure development projects such as construction of ports, power generation and steel production.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Ansari said that greater awareness needed to be generated about mutually beneficial business opportunities. “India is also prepared to continue extending lines of credit on concessional terms, especially for infrastructure development,” he said.

The MoU signed on Tuesday will focus on developing policy and institutional frame work through exchange of experts for the development of MSMEs and conducting industrial surveys and feasibility studies to identify thrust areas and opportunities for development of MSMEs in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, it is understood that direct air services are likely to take off later this year once the legal formalities regarding renewing the air services agreement are finalised. Though an agreement was reached between the two countries in 2011, direct air services have not commenced yet. Answering a question on this, India’s ambassador to Vietnam, Ranjit Rae, pointed out that viability and sustainability of flights need to be considered.

The increasing interests among Indians in Vietnam as a tourism destination, held out potential for direct air links according to Mr. Rae as also the flow in the reverse direction to India given that Buddhism is the major religion in Vietnam.

During the day, Mr. Ansari held talks with the President of Vietnam Mr Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister, Mr Nguyen Tan Dung, Vice-President, Ms Nguyen Thi Doan and Mr Nguyen Phu Trong, Secretary General of the Communist Party. Earlier, he visited the mausoleum of former President, Ho Chi Minh and laid a ceremonial wreath there.

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