May 21 – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has recently met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, the first trip abroad for Premier Li in an official capacity. The two world leaders discussed India-China relations, as well as penned several agreements designed to foster investment and trade between the two nations.
“The purpose of my current visit to India is three-fold; to increase mutual trust, to intensify cooperation and to face the future,” said Premier Li.
Indian officials welcomed Premier Li on his first trip oversees since taking office in March, acknowledging the importance of his visit.
“We think very highly of this gesture because it is our view that high-level political exchanges between our two countries are an important aspect and vehicle for our expanded cooperation,” said Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesman.
In a joint statement released Monday, India and China affirmed several key economic initiatives to strengthen the two countries’ financial ties. This included a bilateral regional trade arrangement proposal and a recommitment to the ASEAN Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations.
The trade imbalance between China and India was also discussed, with several solutions proposed, including strengthened ties between Chinese businesses and Indian IT solutions, and Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure.
India currently faces a US$29 billion trade deficit with China, its largest trade partner. The cooling Chinese economy and tighter credit policies have further reduced Chinese imports from India. According to China’s General Administration of Customs, imports from India have decreased 24 percent year-on-year, while exports have increased 3.6 percent.
During the talks, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng agreed to organize several working groups focused on enhancing the two countries’ trade relations. A Joint Economic Group will be formed, home to the Trade Statistical Analysis Working Group, the Trade Promotion Working Group and the Economic and Trade Planning Cooperation Working Group.
Premier Li and Prime Minister Singh agreed that trade should increase between the nations, setting a target for bilateral trade turnover of US$100 billion by 2015.
“Economic cooperation constitutes a very important part of our relationship and the growth potential of our two economies can provide the engine for greater cooperation,” said Prime Minister Singh.
In a symbolic gesture of cooperation, the two nations penned a Memorandum of Understanding to create sister city relationships between Chinese and Indian states. The two countries will also facilitate cultural understanding through the translation and promotion of important works of classical and modern fiction.