China opts for trade diplomacy with India to restore trust and confidence

October 2nd, 2008 - 2:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) China has opted for trade diplomacy to restore trust and confidence in ties with India.A 70-member business delegation from China, comprising all the major Chinese companies, is arriving here next week on the first-ever “government procurement” mission to India that Beijing hopes will reduce the nine-billion dollar plus trade gap that exists between the countries.

Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng is leading the impressive delegation that will have senior executives of China Chemicals, China Petrol, China Machinery, China Grid and Sino Steel - all leading state-owned enterprises - as well as other representatives of key Chinese companies.

“This is the first-ever government procurement delegation that is being sent from China to India,” a senior Chinese diplomatic official told IANS here.

“The delegation that comprises all the major players of China have shown a keen interest in India and wants to find out what is on offer,” the official added.

Gao and the business delegation arrive in Delhi on Oct 8. The next two days the Chinese vice minister is scheduled to meet Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh and commerce secretary G.K. Pillai. He will leave for Bangalore Oct 11 to look at India’s Information Technology hub before returning to China.

The members of the business delegation from China will have in-depth interaction with senior officials of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Oct 9-12 to find ways to boost and strengthen trade between the two sides.

Sino-Indian trade has been growing at a phenomenal pace and has already surpassed the $40-billion mark. China is now India’s largest trading partner, having relegated the US to the second spot.

But the current trade figures are heavily tilted in China’s favour and till the end of 2007 the gap between the two countries was over $9 billion.

“The main aim of the procurement delegation is to see what the Chinese companies can take back from India that will not only help reduce the existing trade gap but also strengthen trade between the two sides,” a senior Chinese official said.

One reason for Beijing’s attempt at reducing the existing trade gap may also stem from the recent strain in Sino-Indian relations in the wake of reports about China’s “questionable role” at the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group meeting in Vienna this September.

Many in the Indian establishment were miffed at China’s attempt to stop the 45-member NSG from reaching a consensus on an India-specific waiver. But the waiver was granted to India on Sep 6 and China along with the other members had joined in the consensus that has opened the door for nuclear commerce between India and the rest of the world.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week to ensure the steady improvement in bilateral ties between the two neighbours remained on track.

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