China is considering opening talks with India on setting up a free trade area, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday, as business links boom between the giant neighbours and former foes.
"Following the reopening of the trade post on the Indian-Chinese border, our government is considering FTA talks with India," Xinhua quoted Assistant Commerce Minister Fu Ziying as saying at a weekend forum.
China and India, the world's two most populous nations, opened the Himalayan Nathu La border pass in July, more than four decades after a brutal border war closed the ancient Silk Road route.
"We have to follow economic globalisation trends and push for the liberalisation and facilitation of trade," Fu said.
A report in the official China Securities Journal on Monday said China was considering opening talks with India on a free trade agreement, rather than zone.
The comments come ahead of an expected visit this year to New Delhi by Chinese President Hu Jintao, where the two sides are likely to push for a solution to the border row.
They have agreed to resolve the issue politically, but progress has been slow and much of their 3,500-km (2,200-mile) frontier remains disputed.
Trade, on the other hand, hit $18.7 billion in 2005, a 37.5 per cent jump on the previous year, and was expected to reach at least $20 billion this year.