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Cablegate: Vietnamese Pm Leads Large Trade Delegation to Kolkata

VZCZCXRO4949
PP RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHCN RUEHHM
DE RUEHCI #0197/01 1871200
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061200Z JUL 07
FM AMCONSUL KOLKATA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1587
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1512
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 0670
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 0666
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0440
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0432
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 0292
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0081
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 0002
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0001
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0359
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1955

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KOLKATA 000197

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PREL EINV ETRD EMIN IN VM
SUBJECT: VIETNAMESE PM LEADS LARGE TRADE DELEGATION TO KOLKATA

REF: NEW DELHI 3070

1. (SBU) Summary: On July 4, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen
Tan Dung arrived in Kolkata with a 172 member delegation to
renew, what he describe as "an old and good friendship" with the
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM)-ruled state of West
Bengal and to strengthen economic relations. Dung's starting of
his three-day visit to India in Kolkata was highly symbolic,
providing an interesting mix of communist nostalgia and
capitalist opportunism. Dung had discussions with West Bengal
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, attended a meeting hosted
by the Indo-Vietnam Solidarity Committee, addressed the
Indo-Vietnam Business Forum meet organized by Confederation of
Indian Industries (CII), witnessed the signing of an investment
deal and also visited the Tata Steel plant in Jamshedpur in
neighboring Jharkhand state, later leaving for Mumbai on the
same day. Reminisces aside, the visit by the Dung reflected how
far the WB and Vietnamese Communists have changed their vision
from the struggle for the masses to the struggle for investment.
End Summary.

2. (U) The Vietnamese Prime Minister comes on the 35th year of
the establishment of full diplomatic relations between India and
Vietnam. During his visit to Kolkata, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan
Dung was accompanied by the Minister of Trade Truong Dinh Tuyen,
Minister of Science and Technology Hoang Van Phong, Minister of
Fishery Ta Quang Ngoc, senior officials from the Vietnamese
government and more than a 100 business delegates.

3. (SBU) Dung, starting his visit to India in Kolkata, the
capital of CPM-governed West Bengal, evoked much communist
nostalgia and symbolism, especially while coinciding with the
U.S. Independence Day. Dung's first official event was laying a
wreath at a memorial to Ho Chi Minh. The memorial is on what
was formerly Harrington Street but was re-named Ho Chi Minh
Sarani by the Left in 1969 as a slap to the U.S., since the U.S.
Consulate is located on the street. Dung expressed appreciation
for the CPM's support to his country during the Vietnam War,
recalling the Bengali slogan "Amar Nam, Tomar Nam, Vietnam" (my
name, your name, Vietnam).

4. (U) However, the reminiscing about old ties quickly shifted
to the practical discussions over mutual commercial interests.
After his meeting with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,
Bhattacharjee told the press that they had discussed the
possibility of collaborations between the two regions in dairy
farming and aqua-culture. The Chief Minister said that two
universities in Bengal would be collaborating with Vietnamese
universities. He did not mention the names of the universities.
Bhattacharjee also said that business delegations organized by
the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce (BNCCI) and CII will
visit Vietnam in the coming months to explore areas of
opportunities for doing business.

5. (U) Addressing the Indo-Vietnam Business forum organized by
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and attended by around
300 local businessmen, Dung said that India was an active
investor in Vietnam but that the investments were not
commensurate with the potential. Dung said, "The Look East
policy of your country will help in promoting friendship with
Vietnam. Our people remember the support during the struggle
for independence.'' He added, "Vietnam offers political and
social stability and a growing economy for investment." Dung
extended an invitation to India's industry leaders to invest in
areas such as information technology, electricity, petroleum,
metallurgy, coal mining, transport, agriculture, fisheries, food
processing and medicine. In 2006, Indian investments in Vietnam
amounted to USD 600 million. Bilateral trade between India and
Vietnam reached USD 1 billion in 2006. Both countries have set
a target of doubling trade and reaching a volume of USD 2
billion by 2010.

6. (U) The Indo-Vietnam Business Forum hosted the signing of a
Memorandum of Understanding between Phillips Carbon Black
Limited (PCBL) - the largest domestic carbon black manufacturer
owned by the RPG Group conglomerate, and the Vietnam National
Chemical Corporation (Vinachem) for a 50,000 ton capacity carbon
black plant. PCBL will have a controlling stake in the unit

KOLKATA 00000197 002 OF 002


which is expected to start operations in 2009. The plant will
be set up with an investment of approximately USD 60 million.
Tire manufacturers are the main buyers of carbon black, which is
why PCBL has found it attractive to invest in a manufacturing
unit in Vietnam - a country rich in natural rubber resources.

7. (U) Prime Minister Dung's visit to eastern India was capped
by a tour of the Tata Steel plant in Jamshedpur, in the state of
Jharkhand. Last month, Tata Steel signed a USD 3.5 billion
agreement with Vietnam Steel Corporation (VSC), Vietnam's
largest steel company, to build a 4.5 million ton steel mill in
Ha Tinh province, 340 km south of Hanoi. In the new joint
venture, Tata Steel would own a majority stake of 65 percent,
while VSC would hold the remaining 35 percent. Tata Steel
would also have a stake of 30 percent in the Thach Khe Iron Ore
Joint Stock Company, which would undertake mining in the Thach
Khe iron ore mine. Tata Steel, the world's sixth largest steel
conglomerate, already has a joint-venture partnership with VSC
in rolling mills through its Singapore based subsidiary NatSteel.

8. (SBU) Comment: By making Kolkata the entry point of his
visit to India, Dung highlighted the fact that Vietnam, one of
the fastest growing economies in Asia, is keen to engage with
Bengal's growing economy and to build on the special
relationship it shares with the Left-ruled state. While old
emotional bonds were highlighted, socialist nostalgia quickly
gave way to commercial business interests. The visit also
strengthened the possibility of more trade and investment
relations between India and Vietnam as part of India's broader
"Look East" policy.
JARDINE

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