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As Modi charms Japan’s Abe, Govt readies to net China’s Xi

Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's coming visit to India, the commerce ministers of the two countries are set to hold talks to finalise a multi-billion dollar package of Chinese investments in India. Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is due to arrive here on Monday to take part in the India-China Joint Economic Working-group (JEG) headed jointly along with her Chinese counterpart Gao Hucheng.

The two ministers would meet on September 2 to discuss a broad trade agenda, which includes China's plans to address India's concerns on the mounting trade deficit which is currently averaging around $35 billion per annum. India's trade deficit with China mounted to $8.84 billion in the first three months of this year out of a total trade volume of $21.98 billion.

The bilateral trade amounted to $65.47 billion in 2013 with the trade deficit totalling $31.42 billion. This is Sitaraman's second visit to China since she took over as Commerce Minister. She held talks with Gao when she came with Vice President  Hamid Ansari in June this year.

The commerce ministers’ talks would focus on the broad package of Chinese investments that are expected to be announced during Xi's visit to New Delhi, which expected to be in the third week of September, said officials here.

High on the agenda of investments are the Chinese industrial parks in India, which are expected to be announced by Xi during his visit. A Chinese delegation is currently in India visiting three different locations, including New Delhi, Gujarat and Maharastra.

The two sides have already signed an MoU outlining a broad framework for the parks. India wants China to set up four such parks while China wants to make a beginning with one. Discussions are expected to be focussed on the products China wants to manufacture in these Parks while Chinese officials maintained that the quantum of investments would be announced by Xi during his visit.
Considering the rapport established between Xi and Modi during their meeting in Brazil on the sidelines of the recent BRICS meeting, the extent of Chinese investments would be discussed during their meeting in New Delhi. Yet another area of discussion would be China's involvement in India's plans to modernise its railways.

China is keen to construct the high-speed rail network on a build, operate and maintenance basis while India currently prefers China to modernise the existing tracks to improve speed as well as modernize the railway stations.
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