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Balanced, sustained trade sought with India

By DING QINGFEN  (China Daily)

08:02, May 17, 2013

China has never deliberately sought a trade surplus with India, and the nation is committed to helping India expand its shipments to the world's second-largest economy in a bid to make their bilateral trade more sustainable and balanced, Chinese government officials said on Thursday.

"Since the (2008) financial crisis, China has led three trade and investment delegations to India, with purchasing contracts worth $1.65 billion and engineering contracts reaching $3.5 billion," said Jiang Yaoping, vice-minister of commerce.

"China is planning to organize another such delegation to India this year."

Song Tao, vice-minister of foreign affairs, agreed, saying that China is "willing to join hands with India on tapping the potential of promoting sales of Indian goods in China".

The government officials made the remarks during a news briefing on Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming official visit abroad, the first since he took the post in March.

Li will kick off his overseas trip on Sunday, visiting India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany during a tour that ends on May 27, according to Foreign Ministry.

Jiang and Song said the visits reinforce the importance that China attaches to relations with neighboring Asian nations and with Europe, which is still struggling with debt problems.

They also said that the nine-day trip will see China and the four countries reach agreements in many sectors, including trade, investment, finance, infrastructure, manufacturing, urbanization, culture and climate change.

Important neighbor

As the first stop of the trip, India is an "important neighbor to China, and also an important emerging market", Song said.

That Li is visiting India first shows the great importance that the new government attaches to China-India ties, he said.

Li will attend official meetings with high-level Indian officials, give a speech during the commercial summit, and witness the signing of some cooperative agreements.

China expects to promote bilateral cooperation in investment, trade and infrastructures, Song said.

China is India's second-largest trading partner, while India is China's largest trading partner in South Asia. In 2012, bilateral trade volume reached $70 billion.

But India has frequently expressed concerns over its trade deficit with China, and the nation has been an aggressive initiator of trade remedy cases targeting China in recent years.

Chinese government officials say that China is aware of the issue and is willing to make Sino-Indian bilateral trade more balanced.

"The Chinese government has neither purposefully sought a trade surplus, nor set barriers for imports," Jiang said.

"China insists that balanced trade between the two Asian nations is sustainable and good for both.

"China and India are highly complementary to each other. China expects the bilateral trade will become more sustainable and balanced."

Despite the mechanism on border issues the two sides established, the bilateral ties have been soured by territorial issues. India and China has recently just ended a three-week border standoff.

"China and India have the wisdom and solutions to resolve the contradictions and frictions," Song said.

During his recent meetings with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in Beijing, Li said friendly cooperation is central to Sino-Indian relations, and common interests outweigh differences.

The visit by Li will be fruitful, with a wide range of cooperative agreements expected to be signed during the coming days, officials said.

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