India Vietnam Ties, From Strong to Stronger 
GS Paper 2, IR.


  • India and Vietnam are marking the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic ties, which is a natural result of an increasing convergence of their strategic and economic interests, as well as their shared goal for peace, prosperity, and their people.
  • With strong political leadership and the requisite institutional structures in place, future collaboration between the two nations is expected to be more robust.
  • More crucially, incorporating a flexible framework of interaction can positively contribute to regional security and development.

Relationships between India and Vietnam:

  • Since the founding fathers of the two nations, President Ho Chi Minh, President Rajendra Prasad, and Prime Minister Nehru, India-Vietnam ties have been unusually amicable and cordial.
  • The historically tight and friendly connections stem from the mutual battle for freedom from foreign domination and the national struggle for independence.
  • Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was among the first visitors to Vietnam following the country’s triumph over the French in Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
  • In February 1958, President Ho Chi Minh visited India, while President Rajendra Prasad visited Vietnam in 1959.
  • India was the Chairman of the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC), which was established to execute the 1954 Geneva Accords and support the Vietnamese peace process.
  • India backed Vietnam’s independence from France, comparing it to India’s battle against British colonialism.
  • India likewise opposed American engagement in Vietnam in 1955, with Prime Minister Nehru emphasising that US intervention would be a mistake.
  • On 7 January 1972, India established diplomatic ties with North Vietnam, a year before the US departure from Vietnam and three years before the Fall of Saigon in 1975.
  • India backed Vietnam’s reunification, and the two nations have maintained close relations.
  • Vietnam is an important South East Asian regional partner. In addition to the UN and WTO, India and Vietnam work closely together in regional organisations including as ASEAN, East Asia Summit, Mekong Ganga Cooperation, and Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM).

Economic And Commercial Links Between India and Vietnam:

  • India designated Vietnam as a “Most Favoured Nation.”
  • In 1978, both countries signed a bilateral trade deal, and on March 8, 1997, they signed the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA).
  • A free trade deal was signed in 2003, and the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement went into force in 2010.
  • Bilateral commerce has grown quickly since the liberalisation of Vietnam’s and India’s economies.
  • Bilateral commerce between India and Vietnam has fallen by 22.47 percent in the last fiscal year, owing mostly to interruptions caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • Machinery and equipment, seafood, pharmaceuticals, cotton of all kinds, automobiles, textiles and leather accessories, cattle feed ingredients, chemicals, plastic resins, chemical products, fibres of all kinds, steel of all kinds, fabrics of all kinds, ordinary metals, and jewellery & precious stones are major export commodities from India.
  • Mobile phones and accessories, computers and electronics hardware, machinery and equipment, chemicals, rubber, ordinary metals, wood and wooden products, fibres of all kinds, pepper, means of transportation, steel products, coffee, footwear, chemical products, and polymers and resins are the main items imported from Vietnam.
  • India is currently Vietnam’s eighth-largest trading partner.
  • Among ASEAN countries, Vietnam is India’s fourth largest commercial partner.
  • Vietnam is also India’s second largest export destination in the ASEAN area, behind Singapore.
  • Through Quick Impact Projects (QIP), ideas for water resource management in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and digital connectivity, India is investing in development and capacity support for Vietnam.

Exploration For Oil:

  • In 1988, ONGC Videsh, the foreign division of India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), commenced operations in Vietnam.
  • It was granted an exploration permit for Block 6.1.
  • ONGC Videsh holds 45 percent of Block 6.1, with 1.33 million tonnes of condensate and oil equivalent gas output from the block in 2020-21.

Strategic Partnership India-Vietnam:

  • In order to promote shared security, prosperity, and progress for all in the area, India and Vietnam committed to enhance their strategic collaboration in accordance with India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and ASEAN’s Outlook on Indo-Pacific.
  • India and Vietnam are both members of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, which was formed to improve and strengthen connections between India and Southeast Asian states.
  • Vietnam has backed India’s desire to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (APEC).
  • India and Vietnam have also formed strategic alliances, including considerable collaboration in nuclear power development, boosting regional security, and combating terrorism, transnational crime, and drug trafficking.

Defence Collaboration:

  • Defence cooperation has evolved as a key component of our strategic alliance with Vietnam.
  • Vietnam is interested in India’s Akash surface-to-air missile systems, as well as the Dhruv advanced light helicopters and Brahmos rockets.
  • Aside from that, defence relations include capacity building, dealing with mutual security challenges, personnel training, and collaboration in defence R&D.
  • In 2020, the Indian Naval Ship INS Kiltan visited Ho Chi Minh City to give flood relief items to the people of Central Vietnam (Mission Sagar III).
  • It also took part in the PASSEX exercise alongside the Vietnam People’s Navy.
  • The Look East strategy of India has greatly helped bilateral relations, particularly defence ties.
  • Vietnam is interested in India’s Akash surface-to-air missile systems, as well as the Dhruv advanced light helicopters and Brahmos rockets.
  • In addition, defence relations encompass capacity building, dealing with similar security challenges, personnel training, and collaboration in defence R&D.
  • Both nations reaffirm their robust defence cooperation, which is a crucial component of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Recent India-Vietnam Relations Developments:

  • India-Vietnam Defence Partnership to 2030: Defence Ministers signed the ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership to 2030’ to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation.
  • A USD 500 million Defence Line of Credit has been provided to Vietnam, with projects implemented under it significantly increasing Vietnam’s defence capabilities and promoting the government’s objective of ‘Make in India, Make for the World.’
  • A Mutual Logistics Support Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed.

Strategic Collaboration:

  • India and Vietnam are both members of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, which was formed to improve and strengthen connections between India and Southeast Asian states.
  • Vietnam has been an outspoken supporter of India’s aspiration for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), as well as its membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (APEC).
  • In a joint declaration issued in 2003, India and Vietnam committed to establishing a “Arc of Advantage and Prosperity” in Southeast Asia. Vietnam has done much to assist the growing importance of India’s ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as the negotiation of an Indo-ASEAN free trade agreement. India and Vietnam have also formed strategic alliances, including extensive collaboration on nuclear power development, regional security, and combating terrorism, transnational crime, and drug trafficking.
  • Vietnam has also embraced Indian assistance for a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea territorial issues.
  • Vietnam is one of the foundations of India’s “Look East” strategy, according to Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid.

China Factor:

  • China factor also plays a significant role in India and Vietnam’s separate strategic calculations.
  • Both nations have experienced conflicts with China and have border issues with that country. China continues to aggressively infringe on the two countries’ territory.
  • As a result, it is logical for both countries to strengthen ties in order to contain China’s aggressive behaviour.
  • Both nations have fought wars with China and have border issues with it.
  • China continues to aggressively intrude on the two nations’ territory.

Significance of Indo-Vietnam Relationship:

  • India and Vietnam work closely together in a number of regional forums, including ASEAN, the East Asia Summit, Mekong Ganga Cooperation, and the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), in addition to the UN and WTO.
  • Both India and Vietnam have the ability to establish compatibility in areas that promote defence cooperation and infrastructure at the same time.
  • Vietnam, which is feeling the effects of China’s activity in the South China Sea (SCS), wants India to strengthen its military commitment.
  • Vietnam has endorsed India’s bid for permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council.
  • India has long supported freedom of navigation and the free flow of business, as well as Vietnamese and other governments’ stances on the South China Sea. India abides with international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • Vietnam backs India’s Act East Policy and feels that India can do a lot of balancing in South Asia in terms of other powers. Vietnam and other South East Asian countries anticipate India to play a larger role in the area, both strategically (the Indo Pacific problem) and economically. Vietnam’s Assistance from India
  • The Archaeological Survey of India is assisting Vietnam in preserving and conserving several monuments.
  • Since 1976, India has given various Lines of Credit (LoCs) to Vietnam on favourable terms and circumstances.
  • Vietnam has received a huge number of training programmes via the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.
  • Sub regionalism should be prioritised.
  • As ASEAN continues to emphasise its relevance in the area, smaller ASEAN members will see upheavals as a result of China’s ascent.
  • Vietnam’s priorities are divided between sub-regionalism and regionalism.
  • India considers both sub-regionalism and regionalism to be important routes for pursuing foreign policy.
  • Another developing sub-regional cooperation area is the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam development triangle.
  • India and Vietnam can jointly investigate the possibility of strengthening capacity and offering technical support and training within this sub-regional grouping.

The Way Forward:

  • Vietnam plays an important part in India’s act east strategy, which seeks to increase mutually beneficial engagement that fosters equitable progress for all in the area.
  • Strengthening connections with Vietnam will eventually lead to a step closer to realising the SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) plan.
  • The India-Vietnam alliance is critical for the Indo-Pacific region’s blue economy as well as security.
  • Mutual coordination and cooperation: Given the particular problems of the Indo-Pacific region, both nations should work closely together at different venues.
  • Coordinating at the Global Level: Keeping in mind the strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly those posed by China, India and Vietnam should work closely together at multilateral institutions such as the United Nations Security Council, where both India and Vietnam have been elected as non-permanent members in 2021.
  • Coordination on the Economic Front: Both countries must capitalise on the economic possibilities created by anti-China sentiments and the decision of many manufacturing businesses to relocate from China.
  • However, India should devise a strategy to ensure that India’s refusal to join RCEP does not constitute an impediment to bilateral trade growth.
  • Furthermore, India may learn from Vietnam’s free trade policy, which has resulted in a 240 percent increase in exports over the last eight years.
  • Coordination with Other Regional Partners: Vietnam’s ASEAN leadership may make it simpler for India and ASEAN to work more on regional security problems.
  • Given China’s assertive posture in the South China Sea, several of ASEAN’s major countries, such as Indonesia, are likely to adopt firmer stances against Beijing.
  • Building Deeper Relations: Both countries should speed the process of finalising defence treaties.


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