New Delhi: India and China on Monday inked several agreements to take their strategic economic dialogue forward and to an enhanced level.
The agreements were reached during the Second India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue.
The Indian side was led by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. The Chinese side was led by Zhang Ping, Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
Established during the visit to India of Premier Wen Jiabao in December 2010, the dialogue is aimed at improving macro-economic policy coordination, promoting exchanges on economic issues and enhancing India-China economic cooperation.
The first dialogue was successfully held in Beijing in September 2011, where the two sides agreed to constitute five working groups on policy coordination, infrastructure, energy, environment protection and high-technology.
A working level delegation from China visited New Delhi in March 2012 following which the five working groups met in Beijing in the months of August and September 2012.
This preparatory work has contributed immensely to the successful deliberations in and outcomes of the second dialogue.
During Monday’s meeting, both sides discussed a wide range of topics, including greater cooperation at the global level, strengthening communication on macro-economic policies, deepening and expanding trade and investment and promoting bilateral cooperation in the financial and infrastructure sectors.
The proposals and recommendations made by the five Working Groups were considered during the second dialogue and directions given for their future activities.
The two sides agreed that in the current global economic situation it was important to raise the level of economic engagement between India and China. The two sides agreed on the following:
(i) Cooperation at the global level: Exchanging views on current global economic and developmental challenges, the two sides recognized that as major developing economies, they needed to maintain close coordination and communication to pursue their common interests. Among them is the reform of international monetary and financial systems, stabilizing the volatility in global commodity markets, working towards sustainable development and climate change goals, and ensuring food and energy security. Both sides believe that the ongoing and future cooperation on existing and upcoming issues will greatly enhance mutual trust and expand common interests.
(ii) Strengthening communication on macroeconomic policies: Following detailed discussions on the global and national economic situations, the two sides agreed that development growth trends globally have weakened as a result of a number of factors since the onset of the global financial crisis. This included weakening demand in the developed markets, the ongoing Eurozone crisis, lower business confidence, and growing inflationary trends. Both sides seek to maintain continued economic growth while adjusting manufacturing and services, upgrading levels of technologies and skills, while developing the hard and soft infrastructure for encouraging economic growth. The two sides agreed that they would regularly conduct joint studies on issues of mutual interest, focusing on benefits of best practices and information exchanges.
(iii) Deepening and expanding trade and investment: With a view to promoting greater economic and commercial engagement, both sides recognized the need to explore potential synergies in areas where the two sides have mutual complementarities, improve trade and investment environments, work towards removing market barriers, enhance cooperation in project contracting, deepen business to business exchanges, improve transportation links, encourage greater bilateral investment and work towards achieving a more balanced and sustainable bilateral trade.
(iv) Expanding cooperation in the financial and infrastructure sectors: Both sides have agreed to intensify the cooperation in the financial sector by encouraging financial institutions of the two countries to set up operations in either country to support enterprises of the two countries to establish / expand commercial operations. Both sides agree to undertake studies in related areas including innovative financial methods to support the requirements of priority sectors particularly the infrastructure sector having significant scope for furthering economic development.
The main outcomes of the five working groups are as follows:
(a) In the Policy Coordination Working Group, both sides discussed plan priorities and ways and means of achieving plan targets recently unveiled in their 12th Five Year Plans. They exchanged views on skills development and industrial park development. The two sides also submitted assessment reports on the investment environments in each other’s country based on the experiences of the enterprises of the two countries and discussed possible solutions to improve the investment environment. The two sides have also agreed to carry out joint studies on planning cooperation and skills development for employability, and entered into related MoUs.
(b) In the Infrastructure Working Group, with its focus on enhancing railway cooperation, both sides exchanged views on the broad policies and plans for railway development in each other’s country. The two sides also discussed high-speed rail development programme, heavy haul and station development and entered into an MoU to exchange views and other related information in these areas.
(c) In the Energy Working Group, both sides briefed each other on the development of the power sector in the two countries, the ongoing cooperation in the power equipment sector, opportunities and challenges in the wind energy sector, the possibility of Chinese power equipment manufacturers setting up service centres in India and relevant policy environment to support the ongoing cooperation, and reviewed the small hydro power workshop that was successfully held in Beijing in October 2012.
(d) In the Environmental Protection Working Group, the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the implementation of energy efficiency projects through energy service companies (ESCOs), encouraging visits to industrial and manufacturing centres excelling in energy efficient initiatives, cooperate and jointly develop testing protocols and standards and have entered into a related MoU. The two sides also exchanged views on enhancing cooperation in water-saving technologies covering the areas of waste water recycling and water-efficient irrigation systems.
(e) In the Hi-Technology Working Group, the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the Information Technology and Information Technology Enabled Services (IT/ITES). Both sides also agreed to carry out /support joint studies to better understand the IT/ITES markets of each country and have entered into a related MoU in this area. The two sides also reached a consensus to explore the possibility of working together for developing common standards for digital TV, audio and video codec standards and mobile communication technology.
The following Memorandums of Understanding were signed by the two sides in the presence of the delegation leaders:
(a) Memorandum of Understanding between the Planning Commission of the Government of the Republic of India and National Development and Reform Commission of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Undertaking Joint Studies.
(b) Memorandum of Understanding between the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Power, Government of the Republic of India and National Development and Reform Commission of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Enhancing Cooperation in the Field of Energy Efficiency.
(c) Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Railways of the Government of the Republic of India and Ministry of Railways of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on enhancing technical cooperation in the railway sector.
(d) Memorandum of Understanding between the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), India and the China Software Industry Association (CSIA) on Enhancing Cooperation in the IT/ITES Sector.
The two sides agreed that the third India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue will be convened in China in 2013.
They also agreed that prior to the 3rd Dialogue, the working groups would meet to implement the consensus and decisions agreed to by the two sides at the second Strategic Economic Dialogue.