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Historic Sino-Indian trade plan endorsed
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-12 06:33

NEW DELHI: China and India yesterday vowed to develop stronger economic relations.

Under a new "five-year economic and trade co-operation programme" which was formally endorsed yesterday, the two sides can expect their trade volume to exceed US$20 billion within four years, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said.

Speaking at the India-China Business Co-operation Conference currently being held in the Indian capital, Wen said the two countries can push economic and trade collaborations to a new and higher stage to match their strong political rapport and large populations.

Trade between the two countries has increased 14 fold over the past decade, reaching US$13.6 billion by the end of last year.

But the figures are just a fraction of what could be achieved based on the pair's economic strengths and market potential, experts said.

Combined, the two countries account for nearly 40 per cent of the world's population, boasting a market with no parallel in the globe, they said.

Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Kamal Nath said an economic partnership between India and China could unleash forces to realize the goal of a larger Asian Economic Community.

"If we have been 'sharing space' for three millennia in the past, there is no reason why we cannot do so in the future," he told 500 Sino-Indian business representatives at yesterday's meeting.

Wen earlier said the two countries are not rivals in competition but rather co-operative partners who can learn from each other's strong points, offset each other's weaknesses and attain common development.

The point was echoed by Minister Nash, who said at the meeting: "Given how much we have in common, there is much to learn and to gain from one another. Strong economic ties and bilateral co-operation are to our mutual advantage."

Even if there is competition in some respects, as is natural for two large and rapidly growing economies, the two are also complementary and supplementary to each other in many more respects, Nath said.

For one thing, the premier said, India and China share good command over computer software and hardware.

He said China-India collaboration in the IT sector will herald a new "Asian century" in IT.

Indian IT industry leaders are increasingly saying the two countries should unite to take on the rest of the world, instead of trying to compete with each other, the Hindustan Times reported yesterday.

Wen said the two countries have decided to commence joint feasibility studies on a Sino-Indian Regional Trade Arrangement, and will remove trade barriers to help reach the US$20 billion trade target set for 2008.

To upgrade the trade status, Wen proposed both sides actively expand business in resources-based products, as well as in steel, electronics, organic chemicals and machinery.

China encourages its business people to invest in India, and welcomes Indian entrepreneurs, he said.

(China Daily 04/12/2005 page1)

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