Trade will be balanced gradually, China assures India
China Monday assured India that it is aware of the need to balance trade between the two countries, which is heavily loaded in favour of Beijing, and "it will be done gradually".
This was conveyed to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at Peace Palace in the Cambodian capital Monday.
During the 45-minute talks between the two leaders, perhaps their last such official meeting with the Chinese premier set to step down from office following the leadership change in that country, Prime Minister Singh raised the issue of increasing India's market access to China, especially for IT, services and pharmaceuticals.
The Indian prime minister emphasised on the need for "accelerating exports to China", said Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, briefing Indian journalists on the talks.
Premier Wen said "he was looking at gradual balancing of trade with India, and that they were cognizant of India's interests", said Mathai.
Wen said China "did recognise the need for balance in trade and said it would be done gradually".
India-China bilateral trade hit a record USD 73.9 billion last year, but the ballooning trade deficit in Beijing's favour rose to over USD 27 billion.
The bilateral trade registered a USD 12.2 billion increase in 2011, taking the total to USD 73.9 billion as against USD 61.7 billion in 2010, according to official trade figures for 2011.
Prime Minister Singh said India was "committed to working to achieving the full potential" on trade and emphasised on the need for greater market access, especially to IT, services and pharma sectors".
He also welcomed Chinese investments in infrastructure in India, which he said would help create employment and help to bridge the trade gap, said Mathai.
As part of boosting their trade, the two countries are holding a strategic economic dialogue at the end of November in New Delhi. The Indian side would be led by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
Wen said a large Chinese economic delegation, with economic experts, would visit India to participate in the strategic economic dialogue.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement did not figure in their talks, said Mathai. The RCEP, a trade agreement between the East Asia countries which is still being worked out, aims to create a trading highway among the countries of the Asia and Pacific.
The prime minister is visiting Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, Nov 18-20 to attend the 10th ASEAN-India Summit and the 7th East Asia Summit.
(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)