Delhi, Beijing focus on boosting trade in Swaraj-Wang talks

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09 June 2014

India and China on Sunday agreed to inject new momentum in their bilateral economic ties, with both countries seeking the exploration of exploring "untapped opportunities", including setting up industrial parks, to take bilateral trade beyond the current $65 billion a year.

First meeting, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj(L)
 and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi (R) on SundayIn the first high-level visit from Beijing since the new Indian government took over, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi deliberated extensively on economic engagement between the two countries and agreed to intensify business and trade relations.

Both leaders discussed deepening of engagement in specific sectors as well as projects, and removing hurdles to trade.

"There was also a fairly long discussion on economic issues. These included specific projects, trajectory of economic ties, potential for tapping opportunities as well as the hurdles being faced in pursuing enhanced economic cooperation," a spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs said.

Joint secretary in charge of China in the external affairs ministry Gautam Bambawale said the possibility of investment by Chinese companies in diverse areas were discussed in the meeting.

He said Swaraj talked about investment by Chinese firms through industrial parks.

Asked whether India's ballooning trade deficit with China was raised by Swaraj, Bambawale only said both the leaders agreed to expand economic ties.

China is India's biggest trading partner with two-way trade standing close to $65 billion, according to official figures, but trade deficit in favour of China continues to mount at about $40 billion.

Bilateral trade also declined by 1.5 per cent, registering a downward trend for the second consecutive year in 2013.

India has consistently been raising the issue of increasing trade deficit and seeking greater market access in China to bridge the gap.

India has been maintaining that one way to reduce the imbalance is to open up Chinese markets to IT-enabled services, cotton textiles and home furnishings and also in pharmaceuticals.

The MEA spokesperson said Wang told Swaraj that China welcomes India's development and was ready to engage with the new government.

Earlier on Sunday, Wang, who is special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, arrived in the wee hours to establish political contacts with the new Indian government amid hopes of an upswing in bilateral ties due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's familiarity with China.

Both Wang and Swaraj were assisted by their delegations which comprised of senior officials from the foreign ministry.

 





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