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India, China to explore pact on relaxed biz visa regime during Li’s visit

Posted on May 14, 2013
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India and China might sign the much-awaited pact on establishing a relaxed visa regime for the business communities during the upcoming visit of the new Chinese premier Li Keqiang. Keeping border tensions aside, it seems the new Chinese leadership is keen on forging greater business ties with India by establishing industrial parks and economic corridors here, even as India grapples with the problem of a burgeoning trade deficit with it.

According to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, India will make sure that Chinese investments get a smoother entry into India. Khurshid, who was on two-day visit to Beijing at the invitation of the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also met Li Keqiang and discussed issues of bilateral importance.

“Trade must come with travel. A relaxed visa regime is most important for businesses to flow, investments to flow. Business has to travel, and for that it is important both the countries have an easier bias regime for its businessmen. We might sign or not sign an agreement on this during the visit of the Chinese premier,” Khurshid told reporters here today.

Khurshid also indicated the pact could be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing, which is scheduled to take place later this year. This visit by the external affairs minister to China had assumed huge significance in the wake of the recent military face-off between the two countries on the Line of Actual Control near the Depsang plain. Ruling out any speculation of a possible imbroglio between the neighbours, Khurshid said his visit to China was “enjoyable” and his meeting with the new Chinese leadership “outstanding”. Khurshid said China was interested in establishing industrial parks across India. A high-level delegation from India’s ministry of commerce and industry will be visiting China to finalise the contours of the plan.

He, however, did highlight the issue of trade deficit with his Chinese counterpart. Soaring trade deficit with China has remained a concern with the Indian government for a very long time. The ministry of commerce and industry had even worked out a strategy paper in 2009-10 outlining ways to increase India’s export to that country. But there had been no movement on that.
The Chinese premiere is visiting India from May 19 to May 21 with his senior ministers and a high-level business delegation.

Khurshid said China brought up the issue of discussing the Regional Trading Arrangement (RTA) between the two countries. But, he said, India was planning to take it “step by step” in the sense that first India would like to address the issue of this huge trade imbalance with China and then start negotiating the RTA.

India and China had finalised a joint feasibility study on having the RTA since 2007, but the ministry of commerce and industry had been reluctant to start the negotiations.

Both sides will also be collaborating in creating the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar) Economic Corridor.\

Nayanima Basu

May 11, 2013

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