Beijing: Holding their first comprehensive Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) here on Monday, India and China have reached an understanding to deepen bilateral investment cooperation, further open up markets to each other and improve the investment environment.
    
High-power delegations led by India's Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and China's National Development and Reform Commission Chairman Zhang Ping had a very positive and successful dialogue on stepping up cooperation and coordination on a host of economic issues, Indian officials said.
   
The two sides have agreed to stay committed to deepening bilateral investment cooperation, further opening markets and improving the investment environment in both countries to lay a solid foundation for pragmatic cooperation between the businesses of the two countries on the basis of complementarities, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, minutes circulated at the end of first session said.
    
The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation on energy efficiency and conservation, as well as on environmental protection.
   
Both sides agreed to actively foster cooperation on energy, including the renewable energy sector, in order to promote sustainable development.
    
Enhanced exchanges in these spheres would be the new engine for greater cooperation between the two sides, the minutes said.
   
In his opening address, Ahluwalia said India and China share many commonalities.
"China's economic reforms began a decade and more before those of India. Your achievements in transforming your economy are well recognised all over the world. We in India are deeply impressed by your progress and we believe there are many lessons from your experience that may be valuable to us," Ahluwalia said.
    
He noted that both countries had Five-Year plans for their development strategy.
    
"You have unveiled your Twelfth Plan and we are going to finalise our Twelfth Plan in 2012," he said.
   
"Challenges like energy efficiency, water pricing, management of urbanisation and rapid modernisation of infrastructure are common to us also," he said and proposed that the first goal of the SED should be a continuous exchange of economic experiences on all critical sectors from which both nations can benefit.
    
In his address, Zhang said as the world's economic and political landscape is undergoing "profound changes", India and China as developing countries are faced with rare and historical development opportunities.
    
"Since we are at the important stages of acceleration of industrialisation and urbanisation, our two countries are faced with similar or even identical problems in the course of development," he said.
   
He hoped that the SED will enhance mutual understanding and trust between India and China by drawing upon each other's strengths and experiences in economic development to seek mutually beneficial cooperation
    
"By doing so, we will enhance our practical cooperation in various fields and find solutions to our common problems. This will help promote long-term and steady development of our respective economies and have a profound impact on our two countries," Zhang said.

"Closer cooperation will not only benefit our two countries, but also help to boost confidence of developing countries as a whole. The healthy development of Indian and Chinese economies will have a positive impact on the recovery and growth of Asian and world economies as a whole," Zhang said.
   
The two sides agreed to host the next SED in 2012 in India.
   
The SED mechanism was agreed by the Prime Ministers of both the countries during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi last year.
    
Besides Ahluwalia, the Indian delegation included Planning Commission Member (Energy) B K Chaturvedi, Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal, Indian Ambassador to China S Jaishankar, Ministry of of Water Resources Secretary Dhruv Vijay Singh, Railway Board Member (Electrical) Kul Bhushan and Bureau of Energy Efficiency Director General Ajay Mathur.
    
Furthermore, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Senior Economic Adviser M C Singhi, External Affairs Ministry Joint Secretary, (East Asia) Gautam Bambawale, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Joint Secretary Shashi Shekhar, Railway Board Adviser (Infrastructure) R K Jain, Department of Information Technology Economic Adviser B N Setpathy and Department of Commerce Economic Adviser Augustine Peter were part of the delegation.

After the first session, both sides - represented by 12 officials each drawn from different ministries - split into three different working groups and discussed specific issues of cooperation.
   
The topics included foreign capital utilisation policies, energy conservation and environment protection and water issues.
   
Indian officials clarified that the water issues related only to urban water infrastructure issues like pricing, water saving technology and enhancing ground water resources.
   
The talks have not touched upon sharing of inter-river waters or any issues related to Brahmaputra river, the officials said.

Open China market to Indian IT, Pharma: Montek

Meanwhile, India urged China to open its huge markets to Indian IT and pharma products to bring about balance in bilateral trade.

"I believe the Chinese side is aware of our market access concerns," said Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia at the first Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) between the two countries here.

Praising the giant strides made by China in its economic development, he said that India looks to China to open its markets for IT and Pharma.

"Taking a strategic view of our relationship, I hope that they would consider a more positive approach in sectors like IT and Pharmaceuticals, where I believe India’s competitiveness is not in doubt, and where there is great unrealised potential," said Ahluwalia.

Although the bilateral trade crossed USD 61 billion this year, India was left with deficit of over USD 40.9 billion due to accelerated exports from China.

Besides pressing China to open its IT and pharmaceutical market, which Indian official think holds huge potential, India also conducted high voltage campaigns to raise awareness in China about the strides Indian companies made in the two sectors.

"This will not only help project our overall economic partnership as a win-win situation but give Chinese companies more options in their own growth trajectory," Ahluwalia argued.

"I would encourage our Chinese colleagues to be equally candid about expressing their concerns. Both sides should discuss ways of improving the investment climate as that is essential to raise our economic relationship to a higher level," he added.

Ahluwalia said India is also interested in stepping up cooperation with China on railways development. "I am very happy that this group will also provide an opportunity for interaction between our senior railway officials. We view this as a critical area for development of infrastructure and also promotion of energy efficiency."

Apparently referring to strides made by China in high speed train technology and network, he said, "We are aware of China’s impressive achievements in the railways sector. Our past exchanges have been relatively limited. I believe we can do better and I hope that we can look at the future with a more open mind."

Two sides also held in-depth talks on ‘Energy Conservation and Environment Protection’ issues.

The talks on these issues are very important as India envision a broader economic collaboration, Ahluwalia said.

"A better understanding of energy efficiency policies and practices in our respective countries as well as policies on renewable energy, specially wind, solar power and other renewables could be the basis for building more partnerships between our enterprises," he said.

(Agencies)