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China, India expect to sign series of trade deals

China and India are expected to sign a series of economic and trade agreements during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India, a Chinese trade official confirmed at a press briefing Monday.

Liang Wenzhao, deputy director of the Department of Asian Affairs of China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), said the bilateral cooperation agreements would cover trade, renewable energy, infrastructure and finance.

Indian media reported that the bilateral deals would reach a value of 20 billion U.S. dollars, which includes formalization of the recent deal between India-based Reliance Power and Chinese Shanghai Electric Group.

Shanghai Electric agreed on Oct. 28 to sell Reliance Group 36 sets of 660MW supercritical thermal generators valued at 8.29 billion U.S. dollars.

However, Liang declined to confirm the specific value of the other agreements, saying they were still under negotiation and would be formally released during Wen's visit.

At the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Wen will visit India from Dec. 15 to 17. In an unusually large Chinese delegation, more than 100 senior representatives from Chinese business community accompany Wen.

Liang acknowledged that trade imbalance had been a "factual issue" concerning the bilateral trade.

China had never pursued a trade surplus, Liang said, saying the problem was caused by the economic structures of the two nations and their export orientations.

The Chinese government had been taking measures to expand imports from India to balance bilateral trade, Liang said.

According to official Chinese statistics, China is India's largest trade partner with two-way trade rising from 18.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2005 to 51.8 billion in 2008.

The bilateral trade volume is expected to reach 60 billion U.S. dollars this year, according to MOFCOM forecasts.

Liang urged Indian companies to increase investment in China and actively participate in Chinese trade fairs to promote their products, so they could benefit from China's rocketing economic growth.

China's market was always open to foreign products, including those from India, Liang said. China's markets were open to more Indian products, especially from the information technology industry.