India may soon be allowed to export rice to China. The assurance from Beijing came when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met here with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao Wednesday on the margins of the Rio+20 Summit.
“There were some regulatory issues earlier. Our commerce ministry had been working on it. Now these have been resolved as per the Chinese premier,” a top Indian official, privy to the deliberations between the two leaders, told reporters.
The decision, he added, was conveyed when the two leaders dwelt on the target of boosting bilateral trade between the two leading Asian economies to $100 billion by 2015, during which Manmohan Singh mentioned the large trade surplus in China’s favour.
This was the 13th time the two leaders met, since Manmohan Singh, now in his second term, took over as prime minister for the first time in 2004.
“The Chinese premier agreed India has a large trade deficit with China and in that context he said rice exports from India would be allowed. He also assured Chinese investments in India’s infrastructure,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
India and China enjoyed a bilateral trade of a record $73.9 billion last year. But the trade deficit for India ballooned to $27.07 billion, even as Indian exports grew nearly 13 percent to $23.4 billion, as per official data.
The two sides, according to Indian officials, also agreed to form an inter-ministerial group within their respective countries on maritime matters, and deploy officials to hold formal talks on subjects pertaining to security, trade, navigation and other issues, including piracy.
Only last week, an Indian fleet of four ships had visited China on a four-day goodwill mission of the Indian Navy and its long-haul deployment on its eastern seaboard after a gap of some six years.
The four ships – guided missile destroyer INS Rana, stealth frigate INS Shivalik, missile corvette INS Karmukh and fleet tanker INS Shakti – had docked in Shanghai last week and returned to their bases in Vishakapatnam a few days ago.