PM Conveys Concerns Over Trade Imbalance With China
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today invited Chinese investments in the infrastructure sector while conveying India's concerns over trade imbalance to his counterpart Wen Jiabao, who said this could be addressed "gradually".
India and China will be holding the second Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) in Delhi later this month with an aim of enhancing business engagement between the two of the fastest growing economies, significantly at a time when the western world is facing crisis.
After the SED, a date will be decided for the next round of talks between Special Representatives of the two countries on boundary and other issues, to be held in China shortly.
At the 40-minute meeting here on the sidelines of ASEAN Summit, the two leaders discussed a wide range of subjects including economic cooperation, boundary issue, defence, maritime security, besides international matters.
Both the leaders agreed that there is enough space for both India and China to develop while expanding cooperation between them side by side. Wen said this was the guiding principle of his country's approach towards India.
"The economic engagement was given a great deal of importance by the Prime Minister in his remarks," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told journalists while briefing on the "fruitful and detailed" meeting, the 14th between the two leaders during the last eight years.
Singh emphasised that he was committed to working for realisation of "full potential" of economic cooperation between the two countries, Mathai said.
Singh referred to Indian exports and "emphasised the need for greater market access for Indian exports particularly in areas of Services, IT and Pharma", Mathai said.
"The Prime Minister also welcomed Chinese investment in infrastructure sector which he said would help create employment and help bridging trade deficit between the two countries," he said.
Wen responded by saying he was, "looking forward to gradual balancing of trade and they (China) were cognizant of India's particular interest in these areas."
"He (Wen) did recognise the need for balance in trade and said this would be developed gradually," Mathai said.
India has been concerned over the expanding trade imbalance which is in favour of China which now stands at USD 23 billion.
Singh noted that the two countries will be having Strategic Economic Dialogue in the end of November.
This will be led by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission on Indian side and head of National Development Commission from Chinese side and subjects to be covered would include cooperation in various sectors like energy.
Mathai, quoting the Chinese Prime Minister said a large delegation from China, including economic experts, would travel to India for it.
Endorsing the views of Wen that there is enough space for both India and China to develop, Singh referred to the large dialogue architecture that had developed between the two countries, bringing in its ambit even international issues like West Asia and Central Asia besides maritime security.
Highlighting the growing engagement, Singh noted the large number of meetings that he has had with Wen over the last eight years, besides the meetings of Foreign Ministers (four times this year only), Commerce Ministers and Defence Ministers.
Singh and Wen have met 14 times earlier and Wen said today's meeting could be the last as he would be demitting office in March.
"We established good working relationship and friendship between us. This is reflection of friendship between our two great nations," Wen said, adding, "this is possibly the last meeting between us in my remaining tenure.".
Singh hailed Wen's personal endeavour to make the bilateral relationship "stronger, wider and deeper". He specifically referred to Wen's two visits to India in 2005 and 2010, saying these helped make the ties "stronger".
During the first visit in 2005, the two countries established Strategic and Cooperative Partnership while the second visit in 2010 marked 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties.
"I personally value working with you," Singh told Wen.
Mathai said Singh mentioned to Wen the need for action on enhancing Indian exports to China.
"This has been subject of many discussions in the past. So it is recognised that it is very high priority for India. The Prime Minister mentioned specifically areas of Services and pharmaceuticals but spoke in terms of need for greater market access. He highlighted these areas in terms of need for accelerating exports to China," the Foreign Secretary said.
He said the two Prime Ministers also discussed the visit of National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, India's Special Representative on boundary talks, to Beijing in the context of ongoing dialogues.
Singh said the NSA would be visiting Beijing fairly soon for talks with Chinese representative Dai Bingguo, Mathai said, adding the dates will be finalised immediately after Strategic Economic Dialogue. The Special Representatives have so far held 15 rounds of talks on the boundary question.
Singh and Wen also discussed defence exchanges which are important for maintaining the "sense of tranquility and cooperation between the two countries." They just endorsed the need for pursuing these frameworks, Mathai said.
During the meeting, Wen said it was remarkable that two ancient civilisations were set on the path of revitalisation.
The bilateral relations over the last eight years continued to improve and the two countries established Strategic and Cooperative Partnership, Wen said.
On boundary question, the two sides continued active dialogue between Special Representatives, even though not all differences have been resolved, but a joint mechanism has been set up for maintaining peace and tranquility, Wen said. He said he had "memorable experience" of working with Singh.
The new leadership will give great importance to relations with India, the Chinese Premier said.
Wen said peaceful co-existence and close cooperation between China and India not only benefited the people of the two countries, but also helped to promote world peace and prosperity.
"China and India should enhance bilateral communication and coordination in implementing macro-economic policies through strategic dialogues, and promote infrastructure cooperation," Wen was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.
The Chinese government encouraged Chinese enterprises to participate in major construction projects in India, he said.
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