Executive Intelligence Review


India and China Commerce Ministers Come Closer to Agreements on Trade and Economy

March 27, 2018 (EIRNS)—Following the meeting of visiting Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu at New Delhi on March 26, both parties agreed that negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has gotten closer and both parties are exhibiting “flexibility” to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), The Hindu reported today. RCEP is a proposed FTA among the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements: Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

In exclusive comments to The Hindu, Zhong Shan expressing that the meeting was a “complete success,” said that “undoubtedly, this has given us high expectations for and strong confidence in a dance of the Dragon and the Elephant on the trade and economic front.” According to Zhong, India and China agreed to four major outcomes after their talks, including a decision to “promote synergy between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and India’s development strategies,” to “address the trade imbalances” of about $50 billion in China’s favor by welcoming Indian business in the agricultural, pharmaceutical and IT sectors, to set up a special working group on two-way trade, and multilateral cooperation at trade forums like the RCEP, as well as promoting tourism and people-to-people exchanges.

Zhong also said they discussed possible cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, which India has opposed. One unnamed Indian official, who attended the meeting, denied any such discussion. Considering the import of the issue, it is highly unlikely that the Indian Premier Narendra Modi would allow his Commerce Ministry to discuss the BRI in a format designed to discuss trade and ey.