SHANGHAI, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Indian government is striving to double bilateral trade with China, its largest trading partner, within four years, Subas Pani, secretary in the planning commission and chairman of the India Trade Promotion Organization, said here Wednesday.
"It's an ambitious goal. But it's possible with the rapidly growing momentum," Pani told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
Bilateral trade between India and China has seen a drastic jump over the last decade. From a modest 3 billion U.S. dollars at the turn of the century, annual trade reached 42 billion U.S. dollars in 2008-09, India's Minister of State for Commerce and Industries, Jyotiraditya Scindia, said.
"Trade between India and China is set to reach new heights by the end of this financial year," he added.
India-China bilateral trade reached 32 billion U.S. dollars in the first half of 2010. Overall trade in 2010 is expected to exceed 60 billion U.S. dollars.
"Ten years ago, if I told someone that China would be India's largest trading partner with a bilateral trade of 60 billion U.S. dollars, he would have said 'You must be smoking something illegal' ," said Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Indian ambassador to China.
Also, Chinese authorities have encouraged Chinese companies to expand cooperation with Indian businesses, Jaishanker said, declining to provide more details.
"I'm confident that soon there will be policy initiatives to ease the entry for more Indian IT and pharmaceutical companies in Chinese markets," Scindia said.
India also hopes for a lowering of tariffs in China for the import of Indian manufactured equipment and agricultural products, he added.
Scindia called for complementary business cooperation between India and China. "The two countries can profit tremendously from each other's strengths."
The strength of Chinese companies in equipment manufacturing will play a significant role in India's quest to upgrade its infrastructure. On the other hand, China can draw significantly from India's expertise and professional acumen in finance, education and healthcare, he said.
"I firmly believe that strong bilateral trade relations between India and China will go a long way in stabilizing India-China relations," Scindia said.
However, Chinese businessmen still need more information on Indian business opportunities, Jaishankar noted.
When China first opened up in the late 1970s, India was a closed economy. As a result, Indian companies, brands and goods are less known in China, he said. "We came late, so we have to work extra hard to make up for the time we lost."
The embassy has been encouraging Indian companies to step up their marketing efforts in China and hold forums to boost communication and cooperation between the two countries' entrepreneurs.
He said India-China trade has the potential to expand by many times. "But to achieve that, we need closer interaction between the two peoples and better understanding of how each other's system works."