India, China to enhance investment, open up markets

India, China to enhance investment, open up markets

In an important step, the two sides decided to enhance cooperation in infrastructure, specially in the railway sector, as India sought Chinese expertise and technology in building high-speed rail networks. 

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Indian Planning Commission and Zhang Ping, director of China's National Development and Reform Commission, held "an in-depth and frank exchange of views" on a host of issues, including the world economic situation and domestic macro-economic situations, said the minutes circulated after the first economic dialogue.

The two sides also agreed to strengthen communication on macro-economic policies, share development experiences and enhance coordination in addressing economic challenges, said the minutes.

Representatives of the Planning Commission, ministries of external affairs, commerce, water resources, renewable energy and power, departments of information technology and industrial policy and promotion participated in the discussions.

The two sides have agreed to stay committed to deepening bilateral investment cooperation, further opening markets and improving the investment environment in both countries to lay a solid foundation for pragmatic cooperation between the businesses of the two countries on the basis of complementarities, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, said the minutes.

Lauding China for transforming its economy, Ahluwalia said: "China's economic reforms began a decade and more before those of India. Your achievements in transforming your economy are well recognised all over the world." 

"We in India are deeply impressed by your progress and we believe there are many lessons from your experience that may be valuable to us," he said.

The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation on energy efficiency and conservation, as well as on environmental protection.

Both sides agreed to actively foster cooperation on energy, including the renewable energy sector, in order to promote sustainable development.

Expanded cooperation in the infrastructure figured prominently in the discussions.
"They agreed to enhance cooperation in these sectors, particularly in the railway sector on the basis of mutual complementarities and benefit," said the minutes.

The two countries shared their experience in management of the railway network. The Indian side sought to know more about China's plan to expand high-speed rail network is connecting the remotest parts of the country to its fastest growing regions by 2020.

Stressing "profound changes, in the world's economic and political landscape, Zhang said: "Since we are at the important stages of acceleration of industrialisation and urbanisation, our two countries are faced with similar or even identical problems in the course of development."

"Closer cooperation will not only benefit our two countries but also help boost the confidence of developing countries as a whole. The healthy development of Indian and Chinese economies will have a positive impact on the recovery and growth of Asian and world economies as a whole," he said.

The dialogue is being held at a time when India's oil exploration projects in Vietnamese waters in the South China Sea has antagonized Beijing, which lays claim to the whole of the disputed sea.

The mechanism of strategic economic dialogue was unveiled during the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to India in December 2010 amid growing concerns in India about the widening trade deficit. India exports mostly primary commodities and raw materials to China, including iron ore.

The trade deficit has already reached $14 billion this year and could surpass last year's figure of $20 billion.

India's trade with China is expected to touch $70 billion this year. The two sides are hoping to scale it up to $100 billion by 2015.

India has been pressing China, but not with much success, to open its markets to Indian IT, pharmaceuticals and engineering products.