Expanding Sino-India ties key to truly realizing bilateral economic potential: Patil

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Shanghai, May 31 (ANI) : Stressing that economic cooperation is the central element of Sino-India ties, visiting Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Monday called on the business communities of both countries to work together to further expand and strengthen bilateral business ties.

Addressing the India-China Business Forum on the last day of what she described as a 'very memorable' five day visit to China, Patil hoped that India and China would achieve the two-way turnover target of 60 billion dollars in 2010.

"From a very modest trade turnover of just U.S. dollars three billion in 2000, bilateral trade has rapidly grown to U.S. dollars 52 billion in 2008. In the process, China has emerged as India's largest trade partner in goods.

Although the global economic slowdown had some impact on our trade in 2009, I believe that the first quarter figures for 2010 are more encouraging. There is good reason to believe that we will achieve the target, we have set ourselves, of a U.S. dollars 60 billion turnover in two-way trade this year. While commendable in itself, this growth raises three issues that I hope this forum will deliberate upon," Patil said.

One, there is considerable room for further expansion and rapid growth in our cooperation. It is important that we continuously assess and review both opportunities and challenges in that regard.

Two, India's export basket to China is not representative of India's competence in a number of areas - for example pharmaceuticals and engineering products constitute only a small portion. Similarly, India's vaunted IT industry has a limited presence in the Chinese domestic market, and.

Three, business, financial and other economic institutions of the two countries have still to get to know each other well and develop sufficient comfort levels. It is only when that happens that our economic potential will be truly realized.

Confirming that during her talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Beijing, trade expansion and economic cooperation featured prominently, Patil said both Beijing and New Delhi have been in close contact and attach much importance to the trade and business facets of bilateral ties.

"I am confident that there is political will and determination on both sides, to rapidly broaden the vistas of cooperation," Patil told the forum.

Pointing that India is currently China's tenth largest trade partner, she urged the Indian business and industry in China to be more energetic and focused to improve on that standing.

"We must strive to improve on that standing. We have four thrust areas for market development - Information Technology, pharmaceuticals, engineering and agro-products," she said.

"We have four thrust areas for market development - Information Technology, pharmaceuticals, engineering and agro-products. I am informed that dedicated events are being planned this year in these areas, to raise market awareness and some have already taken place. I commend those Indian entrepreneurs, operating in China, many of whom are represented at this forum, who have been successful in such a competitive market as China. We need more success stories to encourage Indian industry to participate in the China markets," she added.

Patil, who is the first Indian President to visit China in a decade, also invited Chinese investors to foray into new economic fronts in India.

"To representatives of Chinese businesses who are present here today, my message is that India stands ready to do more business. We welcome investment by Chinese companies in India. The consumer demands of a society with over 8 per cent GDP growth rate are in itself attractive. India's infrastructure modernization offers significant opportunities as well. For a long-term partnership, it is important that we develop models of cooperation that take into account the concerns of both parties. I am sure that this will happen even as our economic relationship unfolds. It is a relationship that has the potential to become one of the biggest economic and business relationships of the century," she said.

She concluded her address by expressing the hope that the business communities of both India and China would continue to work together to raise the standard of living of their respective citizens, and respond positively to the need and challenges put forth amidst them.

"There is much that we can do, if we only do it together. The impact of our cooperation can be felt around the world. An important part of the challenge of further developing our ties rests on the shoulders of our business communities. I am confident that you will rise to this challenge," she said. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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