Hanoi, Nov 26: The Indian governement, presently being represented by President Pratibha Devisingh and her delegation in Vietnam, is likely to take up the Tata Steel project issue with the Vietnamese leadership in Hanoi. Minister of State for Industry Dr Ashwani Kumar, during media interaction on Wednesday, Nov 26 said that he would bring to the notice of the Vietnam leadership some of the outstanding issues of Indian industry, including the issue of TATA Steel with respect to the allotment of land in Vietnam's Ha Tinh province and the need for granting visas to Indian business visitors.
The TATA's are reportedly keen to set up a five-billion dollar steel plant with a production capacity of over four million tonnes. But the project has reportedly hit a roadblock before getting off the ground.
Tata Steel and the Vietnam Steel Corporation had signed an agreement for the proposed project in August 2008. Tata Steel holds a 65 per cent stake in the project and a 30 per cent equity stake in an iron ore-mining project in Vietnam and has asked for more than 1200 acres of land from the local government.
Dr. Kumar told mediapersons that every effort would be made by the Government of India to remove irritants to promote trade and economic relationship between both countries.
He also informed that the absence of a direct air link between India and Vietnam was brought to the attention of President Pratibha Patil by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) delegation, which the President assured of considering in all its dimensions.
Dr. Kumar said that given the reality of a global economy that owes no apology to geographical boundaries, the only way forward for Indian companies is to become global enterprises through a competitive edge in terms of price and quality of goods and services.
India and Vietnam presently share annual trade worth 1.8 billion dollars.
But the President Patil in her various communications and meetings in Vietnam, has expressed the hope that with the signing of the Agreement on Trade in Goods with the ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) in near future, this volume will be significantly increased.
Dr. Kumar said that India's Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with ASEAN in goods will most likely lead to an increase in volume of trade between India and ASEAN by at least US 7-9 billion dollars in the next four years.
Dr. Kumar hoped that the visit of the President to these countries, therefore, had a substantive content whereby political and economic engagement between India and these countries will be significantly enhanced and made visible.
He said that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the presence of the President, is significant for promoting joint ventures between India and Vietnam.
In a separate development, President Patil has assured the Vietnam-based sister of slain journalist Soumya Vishwanathan that she would speak to Home Minister Shivraj Patil to expedite the investigation into the case.
Soumya was killed about two months ago in the capital while returning home from work late night.
Shobha Vishwanathan, Soumya's sister, is a private bank employee in Vietnam. She called on the Indian President on Tuesday evening and sought her intervention for a speedy investigation and arrest of the culprits. By Ravinder Singh Robin