Addressing the deficit
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The Sino-Indian economic partnership has been a stabilising force Delhi and Beijing must build on
The shadow of the PLA's Ladakh incursion may have come in the way of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit elevating the Sino-Indian bilateral relationship to a higher level. But even as New Delhi's welcome candour in talking to the Chinese saw the boundary dispute being underscored, the bilateral economic relationship, which has broadened and deepened Sino-Indian engagement and lent it the much-needed stability, has had troubles of its own. Primary among these is the trade imbalance, which stands at approximately $30 billion, to India's disadvantage. The second is the lack of access for Indian companies in China.
The Chinese premier acknowledged the problem and has promised that China would help Indian products and businesses gain access to its market, even as Beijing supported Chinese enterprises in stepping up investment in India. Although bilateral trade in 2012, on the whole, declined from $74 billion in 2011 to $66 billion, India's trade deficit has shot up significantly — from $19 billion in 2009-10. The target trade turnover remains $100 billion by 2015. The agreement on pursuing the regional trade agreement, the setting up of three working groups under the Joint Economic Group, and the promise of mutual help in developing industrial zones, are steps in the right direction. The India-China CEOs forum, which has had its first meet during Li's visit, was itself a capital idea, since an economic partnership as big as this one cannot be left to political summitry alone.