In a significant move to boost India-Vietnam ties, union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurated the first representative office of the state-owned defence equipment manufacturer Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) in Hanoi.
Sitharaman handed over the symbolic key of BEL’s representative office in Vietnam (VIRO) to Gowtama M.V., chairman and managing director, BEL, on Wednesday.
Hanoi was hosting the Vietnam-India Defence Industry Business Meeting at Hotel Melia. P. Harish, Indian ambassador to Vietnam, Ajay Kumar, secretary, defence production, and other senior officials of the Indian and Vietnam defence forces were present at the event.
VIRO is located near the Indian Embassy in the Vietnam capital. BEL is a defence electronics company, that has been playing a key role in manufacturing of defence armaments, including air defence and surveillance radars, missiles, cockpit and flight control systems for India’s indigenous light combat aircraft.
In recent years, it has been “fast expanding its global presence, and putting its best foot forward to give a thrust to exports worldwide, especially in South-East Asia, including the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines,” a BEL statement said.
“Spotting a niche market in Vietnam, BEL has now set up its first representative office in Vietnam to address export business opportunities and to provide unstinted product support and services to users in the region,” the statement said.
“The representative office will aim to promote BEL’s exports in areas such as weapons systems, radar systems, naval systems, military communication systems, electronic warfare systems, combat management systems and coastal surveillance systems,” it added.
In recent years, India has been strengthening its political, economic and strategic ties with Southeast Asian countries, signing defence cooperation pacts with Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. This comes against the backdrop of an aggressively rising China. Since 2014, India has refashioned its “look East” policy to “Act East” policy.
India and Vietnam have been in talks for the sale of Brahmos cruise missiles, jointly produced by Russia and India, to Hanoi.