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Singh meets Hu, free trade deal discussed

Singh meets Hu, free trade deal discussed

A prospective India-China free trade agreement was mulled over the weekend when India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing.

   While both leaders recognized the importance of increasing ties between the two Asian powers, an FTA seems unlikely anytime soon, given India’s reticence to allow Chinese companies to take part in the developing ports and telecommunications sector in India.

   Singh told industry leaders in Beijing on Sunday, 'India has no option but to engage China and give China a stake in India.' Politicians back home are unlikely to give him free license, nor is he altogether inclined to do so. While the private sector wants the economies of both countries opened up to the other, some in India are suggesting that the Chinese would get the best of any FTA, arguing that the country has been mapping out its course for success for a half-century.

   Such is the nature of mistrust between the two nations, even as their economies grow wildly. While Singh was visiting the Chinese capital, Indian military officials admitted that Chinese soldiers had made incursions from time to time in India’s remote northeastern states.

   Trade between the countries, meanwhile, is growing steadily, though India has gone from a surplus to a significant deficit in the last two years, an issue Singh said was a worry. He said India must provide products of value to the Chinese to reverse that course, a report in the Hindu Business Line.

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