India, China told first Strategic Economic Dialogue today
September 26, 2011

Following the Beijing Consensus signed last week between the BRICS to build an increased consensus and adopt effective competition policies, vital for ensuring fair competition, protecting the interests of consumers and promoting the healthy development of a market economy, China and India held their first Strategic Economic Dialogue today. 

Led by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, India pushed for China to open their pharma and IT markets further to India. The plea that has been continuously made by Ambassador Jaishankar ever since he took up the post in 2010. Ahluwalia will be conducting talks over two days with high level Beijing officials starting today with his counterpart Zhang Ping, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.

China is expected to create 15,000 jobs in the pharmaceutical space by the end of this year, but it’s yet unknown how much of this will go to Indian companies. In the process of drafting a new healthcare policy, Chinese officials have made several trips to India to understand the scale and depth of rural healthcare.

“China’s economic reforms began a decade and more before those of India. Your achievements in transforming your economy are well recognised all over the world. We in India are deeply impressed by your progress and we believe there are many lessons from your experience that may be valuable to us,” Ahluwalia said.

The two sides have agreed to stay committed to deepening bilateral investment cooperation, further opening markets and improving the investment environment in both countries to lay a solid foundation for pragmatic cooperation between the businesses of the two countries on the basis of complementarity, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, minutes circulated at the end of first session said.

“Challenges like energy efficiency, water pricing, management of urbanisation and rapid modernisation of infrastructure are common to us also,” he said and proposed that the first goal of the SED should be a continuous exchange of economic experiences on all critical sectors from which both nations can benefit.

In his address, Zhang said as the world’s economic and political landscape is undergoing “profound changes”, India and China as developing countries are faced with rare and historical development opportunities.

“Since we are at the important stages of acceleration of industrialisation and urbanisation, our two countries are faced with similar or even identical problems in the course of development,” he said.

He hoped that the SED will enhance mutual understanding and trust between India and China by drawing upon each other’s strengths and experiences in economic development to seek mutually beneficial cooperation.

“By doing so, we will enhance our practical cooperation in various fields and find solutions to our common problems. This will help promote long-term and steady development of our respective economies and have a profound impact on our two countries,” Zhang said.

Besides pressing China to open its IT and pharmaceutical market, which Indian officials think holds huge potential, India also conducted high voltage campaigns to raise awareness in China about the strides Indian companies made in the two sectors.

Ahluwalia said India is also interested in stepping up cooperation with China on railways development. “I am very happy that this group will also provide an opportunity for interaction between our senior railway officials. We view this as a critical area for development of infrastructure and also promotion of energy efficiency.”

Apparently referring to strides made by China in high speed train technology and network, he said, “We are aware of China’s impressive achievements in the railways sector. Our past exchanges have been relatively limited. I believe we can do better and I hope that we can look at the future with a more open mind.”

The discussions on railway related issues were conducted by Vinay Mittal, Chairman Railway Board, Kul Bhushan, Adviser (Electrical) and R K Jain Adviser (Infrastructure) of the Railway Board.

Two sides also held in-depth talks on ‘Energy Conservation and Environment Protection’ issues.

The talks on these issues is very important as India envision a broader economic collaboration, Ahluwalia said.

“A better understanding of energy efficiency policies and practices in our respective countries as well as policies on renewable energy, specially wind, solar power and other renewables could be the basis for building more partnerships between our enterprises,” he said.

Besides the ‘Strategic Economic Dialogue’, Dai Bingguo, China’s special representative for boundary talks, is also scheduled to come to Delhi for the 15th round of border talks with national security adviser, Shivshankar Menon, in October.

India is also getting ready to welcome Xi Jinping, who will take over from Hu Jintao in 2012 as the next president of China. Xi has indicated he will visit India sometime this year, though officials said no dates have yet been finalized. India wants to engage with China’s next leader to not only get a feel for the man and his mission, but also sensitize him on India’s own interests and concerns.

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