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Chinese Premier Li on India visit from today

Li will visit TCS Mumbai Campus, sign pacts on biz cooperation

Nayanima Basu  |  New Delhi 

In his first visit to India since becoming the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang is expected to address the Indian industry, signing a series of agreements on business cooperation in Mumbai, besides holding political and diplomatic discussions in New Delhi, where he would also meet a delegation of Indian students. From tomorrow to May 22, Premier Li would be in India, his first destination in Asia since he embarked on an official tour.

Li, who arrives here tomorrow evening, will meet his counterpart, Manmohan Singh, on Monday. The two leaders will discuss a wide gamut of issues — from the recent border dispute to greater business ties and imbalance in bilateral trade, which is widening each year. The imbalance in trade has become a matter of grave concern for Indian businesses. The visit will be followed up by the first-ever meeting of the China-India CEOs forum and a China-India business cooperation summit.

“Both the prime ministers will talk on everything possible. Everything will be on the table… We will continue to press for more market access in China for Indian companies — be it in the pharmaceutical sector or the information technology sector,” Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary (East Asia), external affairs ministry, said here today.

During the visit, both sides are also expected to sign investment and financing deals. Recently, in his address to Assocham, China’s vice-commerce minister, Jiang Yaoping, said his country was taking the issue of trade imbalance, which had reached almost $41 billion in 2012-13, “seriously”. India’s exports to China in the year stood at just $13.52 billion, compared to a whopping $54.30-billion import from there.

Indian drug & pharmaceutical firms continue to face severe trade barriers in China. In the Indian market, on the other hand, aggressive marketing by Chinese firms has led to a large-scale dumping of goods from that country, affecting Indian SMEs and businesses, according to Assocham. “The home-grown PSU and private firms like BHEL and L&T have suffered a lot because of Chinese power equipment manufacturers. The story is somewhat similar in the telecom gear,” said Assocham Secretary-General D S Rawat.

On Tuesday, after addressing Indian university students at a function jointly organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs and Ficci in Delhi, Premier Li will head for Mumbai, where he will visiting the campus of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). According to Bambawale, TCS is one of the few Indian IT companies that have been able to achieve “some success” in that market, with a “special China model.”

He added both sides would discuss the proposed Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, which will seek to reduce incidents like the recent military standoff near the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) on the Depsang Plain.

“This is still under discussion. It will be taken up during the visit. It is currently being negotiated and is a work on progress,” Bambawale said, without giving details of the agreement.

Apparently, India is reluctant to discuss the agreement with China.

The proposal envisages “better contacts on the LoAC through higher means of communication”, sources told Business Standard.

The proposal, apparently, also has certain clauses concerning ceasefire violations by both sides.

It says, in the event of a “misunderstanding” on LoAC, troops of neither country will fire at each other. But India has not given its consent to the pact yet and wants to study the agreement before committing itself to anything

  • Premier Li will visit New Delhi and Mumbai
  • During his meeting with PM Manmohan Singh, both sides are likely to take up a wide range of issues from border disputes to trade imbalance
  • Talks on Border Defence Agreement and greater market access for Indian firms in China high on agenda
  • Li will address a gathering of Indian university students in New Delhi
  • In Mumbai, he will address the Indian industry and visit TCS campus

First Published: Sat, May 18 2013. 23:08 IST