China, India talk on regional trade pact

By Xinhua

Beijing : China and India are confident that their joint feasibility research on a regional trade agreement will be completed on schedule, according to China's commerce ministry.

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During discussions earlier this week, both sides "fully" exchanged views and reached a consensus on goods and services trade, investment, facilitation of trade and investment and economic cooperation, said a ministry statement, without elaborating.

Both sides agreed to meet again in August in New Delhi and wrap up the joint research by October as the leaders of both countries required, it said.

Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Yi Xiaozhun said that if China and India could agree on a trade arrangement, the vast east and south Asian markets would receive a significant boost while Asian economic integration would be facilitated.

The first four months have seen foreign trade between the two surging by 56.8 percent over the same period last year, the highest of all the major trade partners of China, to $11.4 billion.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh initiated the joint feasibility research in April 2005. New Delhi and Beijing have each held such consultations twice.

Pakistan, another rapidly developing South Asian country whose economy is enjoying an annual growth of between six and eight percent, arrived at a free trade agreement with China on in November 2006.