India 's experience and technological capabilities offer Vietnam great potential for collaboration in several sectors like manufacturing, IT, financing, and infrastructure, a business forum in HCM City heard on Sept. 13.

Organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the Indian consulate, and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it was attended by more than 20 Indian companies operating in infrastructure, IT, mining, banking, healthcare, and education.

Ninad Karpe, leader of the FICCI delegation and CEO of IT training giant Aptech Ltd, said he hoped the forum would help Indian and Vietnamese companies create new business partnerships.

Vo Tan Thanh, director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in HCM City , said trade between the two countries had surged from 72 million USD in 1995 to 2.75 billion USD last year.

So far this year, Vietnam 's exports to India were 739 million USD and imports, 1.3 billion USD.

India was an import trade and investment partner but Vietnam 's trade deficit remained high and "the two sides are working to reduce [it] and boost trade."

To achieve sustainable development, Vietnam had to focus on infrastructure, which was rather poor compared to that of other countries, and energy development.

It needed an estimated 70-80 billion USD in the next five to 10 years to build road and rail infrastructure and ports.

For this, besides local investment, the country would also seek investment from other countries, offering a great opportunity for Indian infrastructure companies.

Anil Nikam, assistant vice president of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited, said: "With [their] recent investment and experience in India , Indian infrastructure companies would like to be an active participant in the proposed development of Vietnam ."

Karpe said with its young, fast-learning, and large workforce and cheaper production costs than India and China , Vietnam was also a promising investment destination for IT companies.

Many large global IT companies like Intel, IBM, and Samsung had already invested in the country, he pointed out.

Abhay Thakur, Indian consul in HCM City, said: "The Indian corporate sector is looking to utilise opportunities to invest in the infrastructure, power, IT, auto-components, banking and finance, and mineral sectors as well as to use Vietnam as a hub for reaching out to the entire ASEAN region.

"However, to further boost Indian investment in Vietnam , it is necessary to inform and provide specific opportunities to attract potential investors."

Indian companies were also interested in the agricultural, health, and pharmaceutical sectors, he said.

Nguyen Anh Ngoc, deputy director of the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Center , presented an overview of the national and city economies and the city's development goals.

To Minh Gioi of the Steering Committee for the South-western region spoke about the socio-economic development of the 13 Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta provinces and called on Indian companies to invest there, especially in agricultural processing. /.