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India, China to hold maiden strategic economic dialogue

By The Assam Tribune

New Delhi/Beijing, Sep 25 (IANS): India and China, the world's fastest-growing economies, will hold their first strategic economic dialogue in Beijing Monday that seeks to address widening trade deficit and explore new areas of cooperation.

The two-day dialogue will be co-chaired by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Indian Planning Commission, and Zhang Ping, director of China's National Development and Reform Commission.

Representatives of the Planning Commission and the ministries of external affairs, commerce, water resources, renewable energy and power are expected to participate in the dialogue.

It will focus on macro-economic outlook, communication and coordination on economic policy-making and other opportunities for pragmatic cooperation, China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei has said.

The mechanism of strategic economic dialogue was unveiled during the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's trip to India in December 2010 amid growing concerns in India about the widening trade deficit.

India exports mostly primary commodities and raw materials to China.

China exports, among other things, high-value power and telecom machinery that has tilted bilateral trade heavily in Beijing's favour. The trade deficit has already reached $14 billion this year, and could surpass last year's figure of $20 billion.

India's trade with China is expected to touch $70 billion this year. The two sides are hoping to scale it up to $100 billion by 2015.

India is pressing China to open its markets to Indian IT, pharmaceuticals and engineering products, but without much success.

The dialogue comes at a time when India's oil exploration projects in Vietnamese waters in South China Sea has antagonised Beijing which lays claim to the whole of the disputed area.

The economic dialogue will help build trust and remind both sides that there is much at stake in building a healthy relationship, a reliable source said.

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