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 (WTO).
These decisions were taken during a meeting between Commerce Minister 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 (JEG) meeting 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 developing countries.
Jaitley said he had a discussion with Lu on TRIPS in public health care area 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 at multilateral foras like the WTO.
"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 developing nations ahead of a major WTO session in September.
"I hope that the voice of India and China, which together constitute one-third of the world's population, should have a say in affairs of global trade," Jaitley said.
The common stand that could 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 (PPP) 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 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 during the meeting, some of the concerns faced by Indian exporters in entering the Chinese market, especially regarding agricultural products like tobacco were discussed.
Under the India-China bilateral WTO accession agreement of February 2000, both sides agreed to sign a sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) protocol to facilitate exports of Indian fresh fruits and vegetable to China, sources added.