India-Vietnam Defence Ties Get a Major Push : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS-2: Bilateral, Regional, and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Key Phrases: India-Vietnam relations, bilateral relations, Act East policy, Mutual Logistics Support, Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, ASEAN, South East Asia, Indo-pacific, Line of credit

Why in News?

  • Recently, the Indian Defence Minister visited Hanoi, Vietnam to further strengthen the defence and maritime security cooperation between India and Vietnam.

Do you know?

  • The year 2022 marks fifty years of diplomatic relations between India and Vietnam
  • India was the only country to have supported Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1978.
  • Vietnam launched an invasion of Cambodia in late December 1978 to remove Pol Pot. Two million Cambodians had died at the hands of his Khmer Rouge regime and Pol Pot's troops had conducted bloody cross-border raids into Vietnam, Cambodia's historic enemy, massacring civilians and torching villages.
  • This had also stalled the process of India becoming a dialogue member in the ASEAN.

India-Vietnam Relations; Historical Background:

  • The bilateral relations between India and Vietnam are truly historical, civilizational and cultural in nature. It is exceptionally friendly and cordial since its foundations were laid by the founding fathers of the two countries – President Ho Chi Minh and President Rajendra Prasad and Prime Minister Nehru.
  • The traditionally close and cordial relations have their historical roots in the common struggle for liberation from foreign rule and the national struggle for independence. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the first visitors to Vietnam after its victory against the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
  • India had established the Consul General’s office in Hanoi as early as 1956.
  • President Ho Chi Minh came to India in February 1958.
  • India had stood by Vietnam in opposing US intervention in that country at the cost of embittering Indo-US relations.
  • Vietnam established its diplomatic mission in 1972.
  • India established diplomatic relations with North Vietnam on 7 January 1972, a year before the US withdrawal from Vietnam. India supported the reunification of Vietnam.
  • In recent times, political contacts have strengthened as reflected in several high-level visits by leaders from both sides. Trade and economic linkages continue to grow.
  • India’s thrust under the ‘Look East’ policy combined with Vietnam’s growing engagement within the region and with India has paid rich dividends.
  • Vietnam is an important regional partner in South East Asia. India and Vietnam closely cooperate in various regional forums such as ASEAN, East Asia Summit, Mekong Ganga Cooperation, Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) besides UN and WTO.
  • Defence cooperation has been one of the most significant pillars of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership initiated by the two countries in 2016

Major developments of the visit:

  • Army Software Park:
    • An Army Software Park is being established with a $5 million grant from India.
  • Mutual Logistics Support:
    • India and Vietnam signed an MoU on mutual logistics support, the first such major agreement Hanoi has inked with any country for simplifying procedures for mutually-beneficial logistic support to allow militaries of the two sides to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
  • Defence partnership:
    • The two countries also signed the ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030’ which will “significantly enhance” the scope and scale of bilateral defence cooperation.
    • India handed over 12 high-speed guard boats to Vietnam. Five of those were built in India, and the rest in a Vietnamese shipyard under India’s $100 million Defence Line of Credit.
  • Line of credit:
    • The two sides also agreed to the early finalization of the $500 million defence Line of Credit (LoC) extended to Vietnam by India.
    • From the Indian end, the gifting of two simulators and monetary grants towards setting up a language and IT laboratory at the Air Force Officers Training School for capacity building of the Vietnamese armed forces were also announced.
    • The implementation of the projects under the LoC will add substantially to Vietnam’s defence capabilities and further India’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World”.

Defence partnership:

  • Vietnam was the first country in the Southeast Asian region with whom India had signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in 2007, which from 2016 onwards has been elevated to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’.
  • In the early 2000s, both sides also signed a defence protocol through which Vietnam could procure military helicopters and equipment for the repair of Vietnamese aircraft. A provision was also made for facilitating the training of Vietnam’s military personnel by India.
  • On the logistics front, the implementation of the $100 million Line of Credit for building high-speed patrol vessels to be used by the Vietnamese Border Guards is a classic example of India’s strategic support.
  • Other defence engagements include joint military exercises, the latest of which was held in August 2021 when Indian and Vietnamese navies took part in a bilateral exercise in the South China Sea.

Act East policy:

  • Vietnam has always been a critical partner for India in its Southeast Asian diplomacy, both under its Look East policy and now in the era of the Act East policy.
  • India and Vietnam have agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in line with India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific to ensure shared security, growth, and prosperity for the Indo-Pacific region.

Do you know?

  • India granted “Most Favoured Nation” status to Vietnam in 1975.
  • Both nations signed a bilateral trade agreement in 1978 and the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) on 8 March 1997.
  • In 2003, a free trade agreement was negotiated and in 2010 the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement came into effect.
  • Bilateral trade between India and Vietnam has gone up from a mere $200 million in 2000 to $14.14 billion in 2021-2022, growing 27 percent in the last fiscal year alone.
  • The Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) initiative comprising six countries — India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam — was launched in 2000 to boost cooperation in a range of areas including connectivity, tourism and culture.
  • Vietnam is interested in India’s Akash surface-to-air systems and Dhruv advanced light helicopters and Brahmos Missiles.

Troubled relations with mutual neighbours:

  • India and Vietnam both have troubled relations with their mutual neighbour, China.
  • Vietnam has mostly faced the brunt of Chinese aggression in the South China Sea since the 1970s — from China’s occupation of Paracels in 1974 to the occupation of Spratlys in the 1980s. This threat has only intensified in recent times.
  • India’s involvement in the South China Sea in recent years has been particularly conditioned by commercial linkages, the need to maintain freedom of navigation, and a rules-based regional order.
  • India has ongoing oil exploration projects with PetroVietnam, although China continues to object to India’s oil exploration operations in areas offered by Vietnam and has on several occasions asked India to withdraw these projects. But Vietnam has lent its full support to India in this regard.
  • Given their shared concern about China, India, and Vietnam have madeVietnam a valuable partner and player in the Indo-Pacific.

Evolution of Vietnam’s foreign policy:

  • Vietnam’s approach or foreign policy orientation has evolved over the years
  • This evolution of approach is also reflective in the way Vietnam handles China as well, where on the one hand it is one of the leading ASEAN countries to openly call out China for its aggressive stance in the disputed South China Sea, and on the other hand, China is also the leading trading partner of Vietnam.
  • With India on the contrary, Vietnam hardly has had any differences or conflicts of opinions and the relationship has been smooth.
  • This reform in attitude has provided the much-needed push for this bilateral relationship to make some substantial progress and not just remain a talking shop marked by some agreements and high-level visits.
  • The wariness of other Southeast Asian countries when it comes to the growing influence in Southeast Asia of external powers like the US, Australia, and India among others to balance a rising China is visible, it is Vietnam that openly supports the idea of countries like the US, India taking more interest in the challenges that the region is facing.


  • Vietnam’s reformed attitude and foreign policy orientation will only provide the much-needed impetus for Vietnam to look at potential like-minded players in the Indo-Pacific like India.

Source: ORF-Online

Mains Question:

Q. Discuss the importance of Vietnam for India’s Act East policy and also its Indo-Pacific vision.