K Srikar Reddy, the Indian consul general in the city, said bilateral trade had grown more than 60 folds in the last two decades to 10.13 billion USD in 2016-17, noting that India is now among the top 10 trading partners of Vietnam.

However, India exported paper worth 38.17 million USD to Vietnam last year, only 3.26 percent of its global exports, he said.

Delegates pose for a group photo at the meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on February 9. Photo: VNS

India imported paper worth 2.7 billion USD, with just 7.78 million USD from Vietnam, he said.

There is thus much scope to promote bilateral investment and trade ties in the sector, he added.

Hoang Trung Son, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Pulp and Paper Association, said the paper industry has seen outstanding growth of 11 percent a year and can meet 64 percent of demand.

Last year Vietnam imported around two million tons of paper at 1.7 billion USD, mainly from Asian economies such as China, Taiwan (China), Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, and Japan.

According to Son, Vietnam has started importing paper from India with the volume increasing year after year. Thanks to the Free Trade Agreement between ASEAN and India (AIFTA), the import tax on main paper lines is decreasing gradually, increasing the competitiveness of Indian paper.

Son said the association believes that there is plenty of opportunity for cooperation between Vietnam and India in both paper production and trading.

The meeting was attended by a delegation of 44 Indian companies belonging to the Federation of Paper Traders Association (FPTA).

According to the FPTA, India’s paper demand is expected to grow by 6-7 percent in 2016-22 and reach 19.9 million tons a year by 2022.

A shortage of raw materials and higher costs are preventing the industry from increasing production and the country has to rely on imports to meet demand, it said.

Shekar Chandak, leader of the visiting business delegation, said the main purpose of the visit is to explore opportunities for both exporting paper to Vietnam and buying from it.

“India imports a lot of wood chips also for the paper industry. We are importing from Australia, Japan, and South Africa.

“And Vietnam is a big producer of wood chips, so there is a huge opportunity for importing wood chips also,” Shekar Chandak said.

He added that India also has some special paper which it can export to Vietnam.

Source: VNA