February 14, 2020 / 5:39 AM / 12 days ago

Vietnam looks to Indian market to ease virus hit to farm exports

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: Tran Minh Tien, owner of 3T shop, collects grass to make straws at a field in Long An province, Vietnam November 13, 2019. Picture taken November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Yen Duong

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam is seeking to boost its farm produce exports to India to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus on the Southeast Asian country’s trade with China, its largest trading partner.

Vietnam has asked India to reduce trade barriers on its exports, such as black pepper and cashew nuts, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Friday.

“Vietnam and India have room to significantly increase bilateral trade,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the two countries target to raise trade to $15 billion from $11.3 billion last year.

The statement comes amid a visit by Vietnam deputy trade minister Cao Quoc Hung to India “to boost bilateral trade and discuss measures to tackle difficulties faced by Vietnam’s farm produce exports due to the disease outbreak in China.”

The ministry said Vietnam also wants to boost sales of other products, including fresh fruits and farmed fish, to India. China has been its largest market for these products.

Trade between Vietnam and China, where 1,380 people have died from the virus, is expected to be severely hit by travel curbs and closure of borders over virus concerns.

Vietnam moved to quarantine a community of 10,000 people near the capital on Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases rose to 16.

(Refiles to correct coronavirus death toll in China to 1,380, not over 1,400, in 6th paragraph)

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Sam Holmes

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