China-India trade target set at US$100 bln

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China and India vowed on Thursday to raise bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015, from $60 billion in 2010, and called for a stronger partnership between Asia's two giants.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before their meeting in New Delhi Dec 16, 2010. [Xinhua]

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before their meeting in New Delhi Dec 16, 2010. [Xinhua]

"I believe with our joint efforts ... we'll be able to raise our friendship and cooperation to a high level in the new century," said Premier Wen Jiabao, standing alongside Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Indian presidential palace after a red-carpet welcome ceremony.

In response to Wen's remarks, before they started their formal meeting, Singh said a strong partnership between India and China "will contribute to long-term peace, stability, prosperity and development in Asia and the world".

A joint communiqu issued after the talks between Wen and Singh said the two nations will formalize regular visits between heads of state and government, open a telephone hotline between the two premiers and their foreign ministers will meet once a year.

The two sides agreed to initiate a strategic economic dialogue to enhance macro-economic policy coordination.

The two leaders also set the ambitious goal of bilateral trade reaching $100 billion in 2015, and announced the year 2012 as "Year of China-India Exchanges".

China is India's largest trade partner and the trade has been heavily in China's favor.

Two-way trade is expected to reach $60 billion in 2010 compared with a target of $40 billion, which represents a 30-fold increase since 2000.

Wen pledged to address the trade deficit, which has risen from $1 billion in 2001-2002 to $16 billion in 2007-2008.

"The two sides agreed to take measures to promote greater Indian exports to China with a view to reducing India's trade deficit," the joint statement said.

Singh and Wen also agreed to push forward with efforts to peacefully resolve their nations' lingering border disputes.

Wen said both sides must be patient and sincere and try to maintain peace along the border and seek a fair and reasonable solution to the issue.

The two nations share some 2,000 kilometers of border that has never been formally settled.

Progress was also made on the political front.

"China understands and supports India's wish for a bigger role in the United Nations including the UN Security Council," Wen said when addressing Indian academic lites at the Indian Council of World Affairs, a leading think tank.

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