China, India hope trade to reach US$40B in 2010

Updated: 2006-11-21 15:58

NEW DELHI - Chinese President Hu Jintao said in New Delhi on Tuesday that he hoped to strengthen the centuries-old amity between China and India and build a trusting relationship between the world's two most populous countries.

Hu, who arrived in New Delhi late on Monday for a four-day visit -- the first by a Chinese president in a decade and the second ever -- was given a ceremonial, military welcome at the British-built president's palace ahead of talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Both Asian giants are keen to develop their relationship, which is now marked by burgeoning two-way trade. But ties have been dogged by mistrust since a brutal border war of 1962, and they are still overshadowed by disputes over their frontier.

"China and India are friendly countries and the exchanges of friendship between our two peoples date back centuries," Hu told reporters after the welcoming ceremony.

"So the purposes of my visit to India is to strengthen our friendship, increase our mutual trust, expand our cooperation and chart a course for the future," he said, speaking through a translator.

Hu said he was looking forward to "deep-going" discussions with Indian leaders on issues of shared interests and working with them to further develop a strategic partnership.

"We have differences, but we want to build a cooperative relationship that is as wide and as deep as possible so that these differences lose their salience," a senior Indian foreign ministry official said.

India and China will work to cement their increasingly closer ties and boost bilateral trade between the world's two fastest-growing economies to US$40 billion (euro31 billion) by 2010, India's Prime Minister said after a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Bilateral trade has climbed from just $260 million in 1990 to a projected $20 billion in 2006/07, and is expected to continue growing. But there are still concerns on both sides.

India fears that opening its doors even wider to low-cost Chinese manufacturers would undermine its own industries, and wants Beijing to be more transparent about hidden subsidies.

New Delhi is also reluctant to throw open its telecoms and infrastructure to Chinese investment for reasons of "national security." Beijing will be appealing for a little more trust and openness, including easier visa rules for its businessmen.

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