China pitching for FTA with India

New Delhi, March 24 | Updated: Mar 25 2005, 05:30am hrs
China is pushing for a free trade agreement (FTA) with India which, it claims, would result in the biggest free trade region in the world.

Speaking to media persons at a round table on trade with China organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisation, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Yuxi said that while the Chinese government supported the proposed FTA, the business community and experts needed to have detailed discussions on the issue.

Referring to the recent meeting of the joint study group (JSG) on closer economic co-operation between India and China in New Delhi, Mr Yuxi said the Chinese representatives in the group had advocated the need to go in for an FTA between the two countries. It is now for the Indian side to take a decision on the issue, he said.

The FTA could give a greater push to bilateral trade which has already been rising significantly, Mr Yuxi said. Trade between the two countries jumped seven times in the last five years from $2 billion in 1999 to $13 billion in 2004.

The Chinese envoy said that the two governments were working seriously to finalise by the end of the month the programme for the development of India-China trade and economic cooperation for the next five years. The programme is slated to be announced during the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabos India visit next month.

Mr Yuxi pointed out that in order to facilitate the movement of business people to China, his country had introduced an express visa service last year which allows grant of visas within a day on the payment of some extra charge. We want India to reciprocate with a similar express service, he said.

On the possibility of increased co-operation at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mr Yuxi said besides agriculture there were a number of areas like health, industry and services where the two could work together.

Asked whether the two should work together on pushing Mode 4 of the services negotiation relating to trans-national movement of personnel, Mr Yuxi said the two could coordinate policies on how to promote and protect their interests.