Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will meet in Hanoi, Vietnam on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit on 30 October. The meeting by the two leaders is expected to clear the air over recent skirmishes between the two nations. While India has ceased defence relations with its neighbor to the North following a rejection of visa to an army officer and encroachments into Pakistan occupied Kashmir and North-East India, China is miffed at the Indian government-controlled Jamia Millia Islamia University awarding an honorary doctorate to the Dalai Lama next month.
Also on the agenda will be trade talks between the two countries. While bilateral trade is expected to hit US$60 billion this year, India is unhappy with the uneven balance of trade and dumping of cheaper Chinese goods into the Indian market either directly or through neighboring nations such as Nepal and Sri Lanka. While India recently tried to curb the number of Chinese engineers that are granted employment visa’s to set up power and telecom equipment in India, it also shot down a proposal by BHEL to charge extra duty to Chinese power equipment manufacturers.
Prior to meeting Premier Wen, Mr. Singh met Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan during 24-26th October. Post the meeting, the two nations, concluded four years of negotiations by signing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Leading to a marked increase in Japan-India business and economic ties, CEPA covers almost 90 percent of trade and a vast gamut of services, investment, intellectual property rights, customs and other trade related issues. Japan has already invested heavily in India’s infrastructure, including progressing major infrastructure projects in India such as the Dedicated Freight Corridor project and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project. The Singh-Kan talks will also include security cooperation, high technology trade, and energy cooperation including renewable and civil nuclear cooperation.
Following Japan, Mr. Manmohan Singh will meet his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak in Malaysia, from 26-28 October. During the bilateral meeting, the two countries are expected to announce the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. The pact, which will take effect next year, aims to enhance the US$ 7.1 billion trade between the two countries. While the pact aims to reduce trade barriers between the two nations, it will also give Malaysia concessions for export of palm oil and related products.