India's Tata Power to speed up $1.8 bln Vietnam power station

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - Tata Power Company Ltd plans to complete work on a US$1.8 billion (S$2.3 billion) thermal power station in Vietnam three years early, government officials said, as the two countries strive to showcase the economic ties between them.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, visiting India just a month after India's president travelled to his country, said he had met Tata group officials and that the 1,320 megawatt project would be completed by 2019 instead of 2022.

Tata Power won the contract last year to develop the coal-fired Long Phu 2 Power Project in the southern Soc Trang province of Vietnam on a build, own and transfer basis. Indian officials also said the project had been brought forward.

"I have promised to the Tatas we will create favourable conditions for the power project," Dung told a business conference. "They said this project is not the final step, they are interested in expanding the relationship further."

The strengthening of ties between the two countries, in defence as well, comes as both are embroiled in territorial disputes with China.

Trade between the two countries increased by over 30 per cent to US$8 billion in 2013/14 from the previous year, the Indian foreign ministry said.

Dung said trade could hit US$20 billion by 2021, far outstripping a target of US$15 billion. "India and Vietnam are two thriving economies at this point. This offers us a strong opportunity to build ties further," Dung said.

Vietnam expects economic growth of 6.2 per cent in 2015, faster than the targeted 5.8 per cent this year. India's gross domestic product grew a faster-than-expected 5.7 per cent year-on-year in the quarter ended in June, the fastest pace in two and half years.

India's Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd also has signed a memorandum of understanding on the management of an expressway connecting Hanoi to the port city of Haiphong under an approximately US$2 billion contract.