India, China to work out timetable for economic pact

Thursday, 25 March 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India and China will work out a five-year timetable for economic cooperation, including the possible signing of a free trade agreement, officials here said Wednesday.

The agreement was reached during a two-day meeting of the Sino-Indian joint study group (JSG) on trade and economic cooperation in Beijing that concluded Tuesday, the finance ministry said in a statement here.

"The JSG on trade and economic cooperation was held to work out measures for comprehensive trade and economic cooperation and to discuss the possibility of signing a free trade agreement and a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement," the ministry said.

"Both sides have agreed to work out a five-year plan for Sino-Indian trade and economic development and to encourage the enterprises of the two sides to strengthen cooperation."

The deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Rakesh Mohan, led the Indian delegation to the meeting.

In June 2003, India and China gave a mandate to the JSG to explore ways to boost ecomomic coperation during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China.

During the joint study group's meeting, Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai remarked on the excellent cooperation between the two countries and hoped that trade and economic relations would develop further through joint efforts.

Last year, bilateral trade was worth $7.6 billion, an increase of 53.6 percent.

Given the strong economic complementarities between China and India, Bo suggested that the two sides work out a five-year timetable and study areas for cooperation in trade, investment and other sectors.

Both sides discussed the framework, work contents and other modalities of the functioning of the JSG and expressed confidence that they would be able to submit economic and trade cooperation proposals by December, the statement said.

Source: IANS
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