India and China are firming up working groups under the India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) to make comparable and comparative studies on sectors like railways and water resources that could act as a benchmark for both countries, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission of India has said.
The SED was set up last year and the broad issues to be tackled were bunched under infrastructure, energy, environment (which included water and energy efficiency), hitech and policy coordination.
The fifth working group on policy coordination will make attempt to remove obstacles in investment. Ahluwalia said. A senior official from the Planning Commission will be hear in May to compare notes on the progress of the working groups.
"This group is looking at what it is that is holding up investment. They have problems about visas. We do need on our own to make a very clear judgment. Are we in favour of Chinese companies going to India? My view is we should be in favour of them. We are running a more and more open economy with integration with global economy. We are looking at a country that in 20 years times is going to be the largest economy in the world. It just does make sense for not to be linking up with them," he said.
Ahluwalia was in Hainan to participate in the Boao forum for Asia, an economic forum. He met vice foreign minister Cui Tian Kai during his visit to mostly discuss multilateral issues.
ON the controversial Vodafone case, in which the phone company was slapped with a retroactive tax, he said: "Since this is a very high profile case which has gone to Supreme Court, I’m not commenting on it. Ultimately a matter that courts will decide. But the reaction over it was excessive." It was unlikely that foreign investments would slow down, he added.
On strengthening the working groups, he said that following the first meeting last September, and subsequent exchange of delegations, both countries agreed to streamline the discussions.
He met the national development reform commission (NDRC), Zhang Ping at the recently concluded BRICS summit. "Zhang Ping expressed satisfaction that SED is taking off."
On the way, the working groups will go forward, he said: "The working group in India will study the problems and solutions (of a particular sector). And then China’s study on the same issue will be taken up and studied."
He gave the example of the water sector. Both countries, Ahluwalia said, were water-stressed. "India has 4 percent of the water resources in the world and 16 percent of the population; China has 6 percent of the water resources and 20 percent of the population. They face the same problems like pollution and getting fresh water. How are the Chinese dealing with the water scarcity issue? So, each group will now identify the problems and solutions and decide on the terms of reference," he said.