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India, China to cooperate at WTO
Anil K Joseph in Beijing | June 25, 2003 16:42 IST
Buoyed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's successful visit, India and China on Wednesday decided to further step up bilateral trade and increase cooperation to safeguard the interests of developing nations at the World Trade Organisation.
These decisions were taken during a meeting in Beijing between Minister of Commerce Arun Jaitely and his Chinese counterpart, Lu Fuyan, official sources said.
The two sides also decided to hold the next round of the Joint Economic Group meeting sometime in November-December this year.
Jaitley, who is part of the prime ministerial delegation to China, said that India and China have many commonalities and their cooperation is vital to safeguard the interests of the developing countries.
Jaitley said he had a discussion with Lu on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights in the area of public health care, as well as agricultural negotiations and investment-related issues. The minister, considered an expert on WTO issues, said that India and China, the fastest developing countries as well as the world's most populated nations, have many commonalities and should stand together in protecting the interests of developing nations.
"We have decided to explore how to cooperate with China at the WTO," Jaitley said, adding that the two countries have agreed to inform their ambassadors in WTO in Geneva so that they could have consultations and adopt a common stand on major issues affecting the developing nations ahead of a major WTO session in September in Cancun, Mexico.
"I hope that the voice of India and China, which together constitute one-third of the world's population, would have a say in affairs of global trade," Jaitley said.
The common stand that is likely to be adopted by India and China could have a major impact on the global trade regime, he said while noting that India ranked fourth in the Purchasing Power Parity and China was ahead at second rank. "So our common stand could have a major bearing on WTO affairs," he said.
Earlier, in an interview to PTI, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had said that China's accession to the WTO had created a favourable condition for expanded trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, as the WTO has become yet another platform for their multilateral cooperation.
"The Chinese side is of the view that the new round of multilateral trade negotiations should be conducive to a new international economic order that is fair, just and rational," he said.
Sources said that during the meeting, some of the concerns faced by Indian exporters in entering the Chinese market, especially regarding agricultural products like tobacco, were discussed.
They said that under the India-China bilateral WTO accession agreement of February 2000, both sides agreed to sign a sanitary and phyto-sanitary protocol to facilitate exports of Indian fresh fruits and vegetable to China.
An umbrella MoU on the application of phyto-sanitary measures were signed in January 2002. India had proposed 17 categories of fruit and vegetables including mangoes, guavas, grapes, papayas, melons, beans gourds etc for coverage under the MoU.
However, the Chinese side decided to deal with each item separately. The first item taken up for consideration under this procedure was mango, for which India and China signed a protocol of phyto-sanitary requirements on Monday after Vajpayee met with his Chinese counterpart.
After completion of a pest risk analysis and detailed negotiations, the two sides have reached an agreement on procedures relating to inspection, certification, packaging and labelling of all consignments of mangoes to be exported to China from India."Now that we have a basic understanding of the relevant procedures, it is hoped that agreement on similar protocols for all the other identified fruits and vegetables can be conducted expeditiously," an official source said.