PM, Jiabao to talk market access in pharma & IT

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will hold bilateral discussions on Monday for a "fair trade balance" between the two nations and for market access for Indian firms in pharmaceutical and IT sectors.

The leaders, currently in the capital of Cambodia, will meet on the sidelines of the Asean summit here.

Singh will also lead the India-Asean summit's deliberations towards reaching an agreement on services trade and investment. Now, India has a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Singapore and the attempt is to raise the level of cooperation under free-trade agreements (FTAs) between India and Asean member nations to that level. India will hold bilateral discussions with The Philippines, Thailand, China and Cambodia.

"This year, we are preparing to launch the negotiations for a regional comprehensive economic partnership among Asean and its free-trade agreement partners, including India," Singh said before his departure to Phnom Penh.

Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma told reporters that India and China will discuss a host of business issues.

"In the past, both at the Prime Minister's level and at my level, we have flagged the issue of a fair trade balance and market access for India in IT and pharmaceuticals. That doesn't mean that this is the only issue we would discuss, " Sharma said.

"We consider China as an important partner. What we are seeking is more cooperation in infrastructure and in manufacturing," the minister added.

India is pinning hopes on a manufacturing sector-led economic growth and has already set a target for raising the share of this sector from 16% now to 25-26% of the GDP and generate 100 million skilled jobs by 2020, said the minister.

Asean is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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