India and Vietnam have firmed up an agreement on maritime cooperation which makes it mandatory on merchant vessels to help and protect each other’s vessels in distress.
The Indian Express has learnt that the pact, which has 18 clauses, has been approved by the Union Cabinet on Thursday, after it was vetted by the Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs among other government agencies.
According to Article 12 of the pact, “if a vessel of one party is in distress in the search and rescue region of the other party, the latter shall render the same assistance and protection to such vessel as it will have rendered to its own vessels and in accordance with the applicable international laws.”
Sources said the pact should be viewed in the context of an assertive China in the South China Sea as well as combating the piracy menace. There is considerable maritime traffic between the two nations, which includes petroleum products.
Sources said the agreement is an outcome of a proposed idea by Hanoi some months back, after which New Delhi accepted and both sides negotiated it. Government sources said the pact initiated by the shipping ministry aims to stimulate steady growth in maritime traffic.