Thursday, June 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India, China to boost trade
Anil K. Joseph

Beijing, June 25
Buoyed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s successful visit, India and China today decided to further step up bilateral trade and increase cooperation to safeguard the interests of developing nations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

These decisions were taken during a meeting held here between Minister of Commerce Arun Jaitley had with his Chinese counterpart, Lu Fuyan, official sources said.

The two sides also decided to hold the next round of the Joint Economic Group (JEG) meeting sometime in November-December this year.

Mr Jaitley, who is a part of the prime ministerial delegation to China, said India and China had many commonalities and their cooperation was vital to safeguard the interests of developing countries. Mr Jaitley said he had a discussion with Mr Lu Fuyan on TRIPS in the public health care area as well as agricultural negotiations and investment-related issues.

The minister, considered an expert on WTO issues, said that the two fastest developing countries as well as the world’s most populated nations, had many commonalities and should stand together in protecting the interests of developing nations at multilateral fora like the WTO.

The common stand that could be adopted by India and China could have a major impact on the global trade regime, he said while noting that India ranked fourth in the purchasing power parity (PPP) and China was ahead at second rank. “So our common stand could have a major bearing on the WTO affairs,” he said.

Earlier, in an interview to PTI, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had said that China’s accession to the WTO had created a favourable condition for expanded trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, as the WTO had become yet another platform for their multilateral cooperation.

“The Chinese side is of the view that the new round of multilateral trade negotiations should be conducive to a new international economic order that is fair, just and rational,” he said.

Sources said during the meeting, some of the concerns faced by Indian exporters in entering the Chinese market, especially regarding agricultural products like tobacco, were discussed.

They said under the India-China bilateral WTO accession agreement of February 2000, both sides agreed to sign a sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) protocol to facilitate exports of Indian fresh fruits and vegetable to China.

An umbrella memorandum of understanding on the application of phyto-sanitary measures were signed in January 2002. India had proposed 17 categories of fruit and vegetables including mangoes, guavas, grapes, papayas, melons, beans gourds for the coverage under the memorandum.

However, the Chinese side decided to deal with each item separately. The first item taken up for consideration under this procedure was mango, for which India and China signed a protocol of phyto-sanitary requirements on Monday after Mr Vajpayee met his Chinese counterpart.

After the completion of a pest risk analysis and detailed negotiations, the two sides have reached an agreement on procedures relating to inspection, certification, packaging and labelling of all consignments of mangoes to be exported to China from India. — PTI

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