Trade and investment are expected to be major issues to figure in the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao here on Monday against the backdrop of India’s concerns over growing imbalance in trade and lack of market access to Indian investments in certain sectors in China.

During the meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit here, Singh is expected to seek larger investments from China, particularly in the National Manufacturing and Investment Zones being set up in India, according to indications given by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma today.

“The meeting between the Prime Ministers will cover all issues,” Sharma told journalists onboard the Prime Minister’s special flight while arriving for the ASEAN and East Asia Summits. The meeting between Singh and Wen, who have met a number of times during the last few years, could be their last as China has replaced its old guard with a new set of leaders.

Sharma said that in the past, India has flagged, both at meetings at Prime Minister level and Commerce Ministers level, the issue of a “fair trade balance” and market access for India in IT and pharmaceutical sectors.

“But it doesn’t mean these are the only issues. We consider China as an important partner, largest trading partner,” Sharma added.

China is India’s largest trade partner but the trade deficit between the two economies has ballooned to $ 23 billion in China’s favour in October this year, as India continues to import more than what it exports to the country.

India and China have a set a target of taking their total trade to $ 100 billion by 2015. The total bilateral trade reached a high of $ 73.90 billion last year but the figure dropped to $ 55.6 billion in the first 10 months of this year, a drop of 8 per cent.

Sharma said cooperation between the two countries, including in investments and infrastructure sector, is increasing.

(This article was published on November 18, 2012)
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