China promises to address trade deficit ahead of Li's visit

During Li's visit the two countries will hold the China-India CEO forum meeting and the China-India cooperation summit, he said.

Beijing: Ahead of Premier Li Keqiang's first visit to India, China on Thursday said it is paying "close attention" to address New Delhi's concerns over the ballooning trade deficit and promised steps to expand market access for Indian products.

China attaches importance to expanding cooperation with India in all fields, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Yaoping told a media briefing here on Li's three-day visit to New Delhi and Mumbai from May 19 during which the two countries are set to sign several agreements.

"The two sides will conclude a number of agreements in a wide range of areas. Of course all these cooperation agreements are negotiated on the basis of mutual benefit," he said.

During Li's visit the two countries will hold the China-India CEO forum meeting and the China-India cooperation summit, he said.

A Chinese trade and investment promotion mission will accompany Li during his India visit, Jiang said.

On India's concerns over widening trade deficit, which touched USD 28.87 billion in the overall bilateral trade of USD 66.47 billion last year, Jiang said "China pays close attention" to the issue and is taking steps to address it.

India has asked China, the world's second-largest economy, to open up its markets in areas like IT and pharmaceuticals where the South Asian giant has an edge.

"China takes this issue seriously and we have already taken number of efforts to address the problem," Jiang said adding that China has sent three trade investment promotion missions to India since 2008.

"We have signed purchase contracts worth USD 1.65 billion and financial agreements worth USD 11.64 billion. Also we signed engineering contracts worth USD 3.5 billion," he said.

"We will provide facilities to India to explore Chinese markets. In the coming five years China plans to import USD 10 trillion worth of products and make investment worth USD 500 billion. We hope Indian side will take proportion of its share in China's imports and outbound investment," Jiang said.

"China is ready to work with the Indian side to tap into the potential of our bilateral trade, better promote Indian products in China and encourage two-way investment so as to gradually resolve the issue of trade deficit in the course of development," he said.

"I want to emphasise that Chinese government never had the intention of seeking or pursuing trade surplus. We have never set any restrictions or barriers on bilateral trade," he said.

Chinese trade surplus has dropped from USD 300 billion before the financial crisis to USD 200 billion and its share in GDP is 2.8 percent which is lower than the internationally accepted level of trade surplus, he said.

"In our bilateral trade with India we believe only balanced trade is conducive to the interests of both sides and reason we have trade imbalance between the two countries is economic patterns and structures between the two countries," he said.

He also said China is organising South Asia Commodities Trade Fair from June 6 to 10 in Kunming city in which Indian firms will take part.

"We hope it will be boost Indian products. China and India have strong economic complementaries and Chinese side is interested in increasing trade with India and we hope the bilateral trade will enjoy even bigger progress while keeping its balance," he said.

Jiang said both India and China are confident of meeting the trade target of USD 100 billion by 2015.