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India, China stress on boosting economic ties

India and China Wednesday laid stress on boosting economic cooperation -- by setting up industrial clusters and through a possible bilateral trading agreement -- as well as on maintaining peace on their border.

A joint statement issued after talks betweeen Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said India and China are "poised to enter a new stage of economic engagement based on pragmatic cooperation and mutually advantageous policies and practices".

India and China two-way trade is over USD 65 billion, which is heavily skewed in China's favour. India has voiced concern at the adverse trade balance, which stands at over USD 30 billion.

The statement said both sides would examine the prospects of a bilateral Regional Trade Arrangement (RTA), review the state of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and expedite efforts to conclude a framework agreement for setting up industrial zones "to provide platforms of cluster type development for enterprises of the two countries".

The joint statement also talks of setting up a study group on the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, which Beijing has been pushing for. "Both India and China would continue to discuss with the other parties to this initiative, and hold the first BCIM Joint Study Group meeting in December."

On the border issue, it said their special representatives "who have been tasked with exploring a framework of settlement of the India-China boundary question were encouraged by the two leaders to continue their efforts in that direction".

"Peace and tranquility on the India-China border was recognised as an important guarantor for the development and continued growth of bilateral relations," it said, and added the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement would strengthen maintenance of stability on the border.

The statement dwelt on the agreement on sharing of information on trans-border rivers, on further people-to-people exchanges and to mark 2014 as a Year of Friendly Exchange.

The two countries also agreed to further strengthen coordination and cooperation in multilateral forums including Russia-India-China, BRICS, and G-20 to jointly tackle global issues such as climate change, international terrorism, food and energy security, and to establish a fair and equitable international political and economic system.