Thursday, June 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P M' S   K E Y N O T E   A D D R E S S

The Keynote address by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at a seminar on ''China-India Economic Cooperation and Development"

Mr Minister,
Chairman of the 
China Council for Promotion of International Trade,


It is a great pleasure for me to be here today, among the premier business representatives of one of the most dynamic economies in the world today. On this visit, I have been in Beijing now for just over a day. But wherever I have been in this city, I saw the pace of economic change and could sense the urgency of the modernization drive. It has truly been an eye-opener.

I must note that the Indian business delegation accompanying me on this visit is among the largest that has travelled with me on my official visits abroad. This says something about the potential which Indian trade and industry circles see in economic cooperation with China.

I have had the privilege to witness three distinct phases of economic change in this country. I first came here in 1979, just after the “Four Modernizations? were adopted. I came again in 1993, when Senior Leader Deng Xiaoping had just launched the second phase of your economic reforms. Now in 2003, we see the country’s ambitious plan to quadruple its GDP by 2020. Judging by your past performance, I have no reason to doubt that you will also achieve this extraordinary target. China is today the world’s fastest growing economy and is second largest in purchasing power parity. Your achievements in the economic transformation of your country are truly remarkable and I congratulate the Chinese government and people for them.


While our expansion and growth rates have lagged behind China, the Indian economy has also made impressive strides in the last decade or so. In the last 12 years, we have recorded an average annual growth of nearly 6 per cent. India is the world’s fourth largest economy on purchasing power parity. Our trade with the world has also recorded a steady annual growth of over 8 per cent in the past decade. We can now say with some certainty that Indian private business and industry has come of age in a rapidly globalising world.

Indian companies are now acquiring brand recognition abroad in cutting edge areas like Information Technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. The Forbes 200 ranking last year of the world’s best small companies included as many as 13 Indian companies.


The twin objectives of my visit to China at this stage were

1. to establish close relations with the new leadership of your country, and

2. to impart a fresh momentum to the comprehensive cooperation which India and China are in the process of building.

I must say with great satisfaction that my meetings with the leadership of China have been excellent. They have confirmed that the desire to build stable, enduring and forward-looking ties of friendship is shared by the highest political levels in both countries.

Some of the results in economic cooperation have already been quite encouraging. Our bilateral trade has been growing rapidly. Though it is from a relatively narrow base, the recent annual growth rate of 30 per cent in our bilateral trade is quite significant. In the first four months of this year, bilateral trade registered an astonishing growth of about 70 per cent. China now accounts for about 4 per cent of India’s foreign trade and this proportion is rising. At this rate, the bilateral trade target of 10 billion dollars ?which had been mentioned during the Chinese Premier’s visit to India last year ?is likely to be attained soon.

Equally importantly, bilateral investments have started picking up. There are about 15 Chinese companies in India and 71 projects set up by Indian firms in China. Although the net investment figures are not as yet very large, the symbolism of two of the largest developing countries investing in each other’s economies is important.

Speaking at the Peking University yesterday, I had drawn attention to the many commonalities between India and China, which have created potentially rewarding synergies. Both have large populations, growing economies, and a majority of our people dependent on agriculture. Shared economic, social and ecological problems create opportunities for closer cooperation.

There was a period in the India-China relationship when our preoccupation with our differences prevented a pragmatic understanding of the mutual benefits from cooperation. Our present course of developing all-round bilateral cooperation, while simultaneously addressing our differences, has transformed the quality of our relationship. This has helped to further narrow our differences and to accelerate our cooperation.

Of course we have much further to go to realize the full potential of our partnership. We have, first and foremost, to bridge the information gap between the business communities of our two countries. There has to be far greater exposure in each country of the opportunities available in the other. This would help to diversify our trade basket. It would also ensure that we first look within our countries for solutions to our economic needs, before we turn to the developed countries.

Our two governments have decided to make a concerted effort to move our economic cooperation to greater heights. Premier Wen Jiabao and I decided yesterday that we would form a Joint Study Group of economists and officials from our two countries to review existing cooperation, to identify new areas of promise and to draw up a comprehensive perspective plan for the further development of a multi-faceted economic interaction. This is an initiative which will require meaningful inputs also from business and industry of India and China.

For a rapid expansion of our economic interactions, it is very important to strengthen passenger and cargo transportation links, banking support structures and trade facilitation measures. While governments on both sides can work to address these infrastructural problems, it is for private business and industry to optimise their utilization.


This is a business seminar and innovative ideas for progressing the India-China economic partnership in various areas should really emerge from your deliberations. I cannot lay down either policy prescriptions or action agendas for this endeavour. I would only like to affirm to you that the leadership of our two countries believes in the huge potential for our economic and commercial cooperation. We are committed to create conditions which would facilitate the rapid growth of this cooperation. This provides a strong political underpinning to your endeavours. I hope you can build on it constructively and creatively.

Thank you.

The Keynote address was delivered on June 24, 2003.

(Source: The Indian Ministry of External Affairs website


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