China premier sees huge benefits in strong economic ties with India
Agencies in New Delhi, Mumbai and Islamabad
Premier Li Keqiang told Indian business leaders yesterday that developing stronger economic ties between their two nations would have huge benefits for both sides.
Li spoke a day after holding meetings with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during which the two leaders played down a recent border dispute and stressed the aim of forging deeper co-operation.
Li told the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry that India and China were both enormous markets with incredible potential for growth.
"If every one of our combined 2.5 billion population would buy a new mobile phone, it would blow up the order lists of IT manufacturers and operators in the world," Li said.
He said the two nations' strengths complement each other, with India having an edge in IT and software, while China is undergoing a rapid expansion in manufacturing and textiles.
"We have the ability to mitigate the trade imbalance between our two countries," Li said, responding to Indian worries over trade that is heavily skewed in China's favour.
He also said China was willing to "launch negotiations on a China-India regional trading arrangement" but did not elaborate.
China is India's biggest trading partner, with two-way commerce totalling US$67.83 billion in the year to March, up from US$2.1 billion in 2001-02. But India's trade deficit with its neighbour soared to US$40.77 billion last year from just US$1.08 billion in 2001-02, Indian figures show.
Li said he wants a "dynamic trade balance" as the neighbours aim to raise two-way trade to US$100 billion by 2015.
But previous commitments by China have failed to narrow the imbalance.
India's Essar Oil was yesterday expected to sign a US$1 billion loan deal with China that sources with knowledge of the matter said would be backed by a supply of refined products to top state oil producer PetroChina.
Essar Oil had been expected to sign a preliminary deal with China Development Bank to borrow that amount.
Meanwhile, ahead of Li's visit to Pakistan today, a roadside bomb exploded near the seafront in Karachi yesterday.
Police said the bomb was apparently targeting a van full of Chinese port workers.
No one was hurt.
Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse