India, China push regional trade plan

28 Sep 2007


Mumbai: China and India have reached a tentative agreement on cargo and service trade, investment as well as trade and investment facilitating measures even as the two countries reported progress in finding ways of initiating a regional trade arrangement (RTA), China''s ministry of commerce said.

The two sides, which met in Beijing for a fifth time for a two-day consultation that ended yesterday, expects to conclude a joint assessment of regional trade potential at the sixth consultation meeting to be held in New Delhi by October, ministry spokesman Wang Xinpei said.

The two sides would then decide whether to start free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.

Trade between China and India surged 56.8 per cent year-on-year during the first four months of the current fiscal - the highest among all major trade partners for India - to $11.4 billion, reports quoting Chinese customs statistics said.

The two neighbours, meanwhile, have concluded a fresh round of talks aimed at resolving their age-old border dispute.

Special representatives of India and China, national security adviser M K Narayanan and Chinese vice foreign minister, Dai Bingguo concluded their 11th round of border negotiations in New Delhi on September 26.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh as well as Congress party president Sonia Gandhi are also due to visit China in the coming months.

While details of their negotiations were not released, a brief press statement said Narayanan and Dai held "useful and positive discussions on the framework for the settlement of the India-China boundary question".

Both China and India have intensified works on many infrastructure projects in the disputed 3500-km long India-China border.

While China has carried out extensive works aimed at improving Tibet''s infrastructure, India''s Border Roads Organisation (BRO), will be constructing all-weather roads in the strategic areas of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh in the North East.

The BRO is also working on the restoration of large tracts of the Hindustan-Tibet road, which was undertaken in 1961, a year ahead of the India-China war, under `Project Deepak.''

India has so far spent close to Rs63 crore on the project in the last three years. The government has also approved construction of 27 road links along the India-China border at an estimated cost of Rs912 crore.

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