04/12/2011, 00.00
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Beijing and New Delhi to discuss bilateral economic relations at BRICS summit

Indo-Chinese relations are crucial according to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who left today for Sanya (Hainan Province) for the BRICS summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) where recent developments in the Persian Gulf and North Africa will be discussed.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan left this morning for China for the upcoming summit of emerging economies, which include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (also known as the BRICS). Participants will discuss the crisis in the Persian Gulf states and North Africa. The goal is to coordinate efforts on major issues like energy and food security. Singh’s visit will also be an opportunity for New Delhi and Beijing to boost economic ties.

The BRICS group of nations has acquired a special significance since at present all of its members are in both the G-20 group and on the United Nations Security Council.

China is India's largest trading partner, but the trade relationship is very unbalanced. In fact, India's primary export to China is iron ore, whilst India is import dependent on China.

For New Delhi, “One of the demands is to open up the Chinese markets to India. Otherwise the trade balance is very much in favour of China," said Samiran Chakraborty, regional head of research for India at Standard Chartered Bank.

Before boarding his plane for Sanya, where the summit is being held, Singh said he was looking forward to his meeting with the Chinese President Hu Jintao.

“The India-China relationship is a key relationship which has now acquired global significance," the Prime Minister said.

In December, the two countries agreed to increase bilateral trade to US$ 100 billion by 2015, up from US$ 60 billion in 2010.

Beijing and New Delhi also share an interest in South Africa’s coal. The African nation supplied 20.2 million metric tonnes of the fuel in the 12 months ending March 2011 to India, up from 18.72 million a year earlier. China’s imports from South Africa rose 13 per cent to 451,391 tonnes in March.

There are doubts however about South African membership in BRICS after Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi invited Pretoria to join last year, because other stronger emerging economies like South Korea were left out (see “China and Russia to invite South Africa into BRIC to help their expansion,” in AsiaNews, 5 January 2011)

For many analysts, the motivation behind the decision to include South Africa was more political than economic. For countries like China, the African nation is a privileged entry point for the whole of the continent, at the expense of the United States, which recently decided to strengthen its presence in Africa.

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