Vietnam always supports the Look East policy of India and welcomes the country’s greater presence in Southeast Asia and Vietnam in particular.

Vietnamese Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh made the statement at a workshop on India’s Look East policy held from February 26-28 at Shillong in India’s northeaster state of Meghalaya.

He highlighted the traditional friendship between Vietnam and India, which received a boost with the singing of a strategic partnership agreement in 2007 and since then their cooperation have been developed in across-the-board fields.

India is currently one of the top 10 trade partners of Vietnam, with two-way trade surging to over 8 billion USD in 2014 from 1 billion USD in 2006, the ambassador said, adding that bilateral trade is expected to hit 15 billion USD in 2020.

Indian investors have poured more than 220 million USD in Vietnam while Vietnamese businesses invested around 26 million USD in India.

In addition, nearly 20,000 Vietnamese travel to India each year, mostly to Buddhism holy sites and about 30,000 Indian tourists visit Vietnam, which is expected to be increased to 100,000 in the foreseeable future, the ambassador told the workshop.

He also underlined the sound relationship between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with a strategic partnership and a bilateral free trade agreement signed between the two sides.

Two-way trade increased rapidly from 3 billion USD in 1994 to nearly 80 billion USD in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Bilateral trade is forecast to top 100 billion USD in 2015 and 200 billion USD in 2020, he added.

The Vietnamese Ambassador pointed to the importance of India’s North East region to the Look East policy thanks to its advantageous location in proximity to Southeast Asian countries.

To increase cooperation between India’s North East region and Southeast Asia, he proposed enhancing road and air linkages and designing specific programmes and activities to promote the North East region as an attractive investment and tourism destination.-VNA