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EXCLUSIVE Q&A: Pham Sanh Chau, Vietnam’s Ambassador to India

‘We need to make everyone realise India’s potential as a good cotton supplier’

Pham Sanh Chau Vietnams Ambassador to IndiaIndia’s share in the global textile and clothing exports has increased modestly to 4 per cent in last two decades. Meanwhile, Bangladesh and Vietnam’s share has grown 6.5 per cent and 5.9 per cent, respectively. China’s share in global exports in 2017 declined from 36.7 per cent to 34.9 per cent amidst brewing trade conflicts. Moreover, with ever rising labour cost, textile and apparel manufacturing is moving out of China slowly but steadily, thereby creating space for countries likes of Bangladesh, Vietnam and India. Trade facts indicate that both Bangladesh and Vietnam are likely to garner the lion’s share of this trade. On the other hand, the Indian industry continues to struggle with sluggish growth due to lack of reforms in Indian textile sector.

At the recent Vietnam Trade, Investment & Promotion road show held in India Fashionatingworld speaks exclusively to Pham Sanh Chau, Vietnam’s Ambassador to India about the road show and opportunities it offers to develop trade relations between the two countries.

What prospects do you see in bilateral trade between India and Vietnam in the short and midterm?

There is a lot of untapped potential for business between these two countries. We are organising a month long program to promote our country in India. We have a delegation of 26 people at the event while several others will follow in coming weeks. In all, 33 events are chalked out.

What kind of response is the road show generating?

The outcome of this initiative has been very positive and we hope to sign a few MoUs that will materialise into concrete projects and contracts.

Is this the first time such a comprehensive exercise has been taken up?

Yes, an event for such a long duration is being held for the first time. I came to India a year ago and have since then been organising many events for investment, trade and tourism purposes. However, this is the first compact event that covers all topics in one session and is promoted in different states and cities.

Is this initiative unique to India only or is it being done in other countries also?

This initiative is unique only to India only as it is a huge country and we aim to cover even remote province or states of India from Dharmshala in Himachal Pradesh to Imphal in Manipur. Only two or three other countries in the world can match the size and scale of India including the United Sates, China and Russia. Though our current trade with China is worth nearly $100 million with India we are still aiming to reach $15 million by next year. This offers a huge scope to explore trade potential with India.

Which areas need to be improved upon?

First, we need to upgrade our tourism facilities as now there is a direct flight connectivity to Vietnam. Secondly, we need to export a lot of machinery, electrical goods and pharmaceutical raw materials. We can also invest in software, information technology or copper in the country. Software giant HCL recently opened an agency in Vietnam and plans to invest aggressively in the country.

What is your take on textile trade between the two countries?

Vietnam, being a big garment exporter, imports a lot of cotton. We have a separate section on cotton and encourage young Indians to explore export opportunities in Vietnam.

Where do you place India within the textile import space?

As we import a lot of cotton from China, this is the right moment to set the balance straight in cotton and yarn imports, which is weighted in favour of China. We need to make everyone realise that India is a good cotton supplier. Changing mindsets is not easy. Though it is convenient for us to trade with China due to its close proximity, we have now launched two airlines which have made it easier for us to trade with India. We now need to make people realise India’s potential as a good garment and yarn supplier, which is not an easy task.