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

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.

(This story corrects coronavirus death toll in China to 1,380, not over 1,400, in 6th paragraph)

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