Vietnam is a member of the 10-nation bloc Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma today met Vietnam Trade and Industry Minister Vu Huy Hoang and discussed ways to increase economic cooperation.

"With the implementation of India-Asean FTA by India and Vietnam since June 2010, bilateral trade would maintain the present growth momentum and would help in achieving the (bilateral trade) target," an official statement quoting Sharma said.

The bilateral trade between the countries increased to USD USD 5 billion in 2011 from USD 3.45 billion.

"Sharma expressed confidence that a target of USD 7 billion for bilateral trade can be achieved by 2015, if the present rates of growth of trade are maintained," it said.

The Indian Minister also conveyed to his Vietnamese counterpart the need of an ambitious agreement on services and investment, after the comprehensive trade in goods agreement.

India and Asean are currently negotiating to widen the base of free trade agreement in goods by including services and investments in the pact.

"We look forward to flexibility from Vietnam in concluding this agreement by the targeted timeline of early 2012," Sharma said.

He also expressed keenness of the Indian banks to open their branches in Vietnam, which in turn will facilitate increased trade and investment between the countries.

The Indian minister raised concerns related to land acquisition issues in Vietnam which is hampering the pace with which manufacturing industry can set up their bases in the south east Asian nation.

Also, he has highlighted that the renewal of licences in the Vietnamese pharmaceutical industry is lengthy, "as the renewal can only be done when the old one expires", it said.

The Economic Times (.in) - November 1st, 2012