Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that his country would correct the balance of trade that is currently in its favour.

The issue of trade imbalance in the $41.60 billion merchandise engagement with India came up during a meeting of the two premiers on the margins of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit here.

“He (Wen) said China will work with India to correct the growing trade deficit,” Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, N. Ravi, told reporters after the meeting.

In the bilateral engagement of $41.60 billion for the fiscal 2008-09, Chinese imports to India were a tidy $31.33 billion. But India’s exports were far less at $9.27 billion creating a gap which the domestic Indian firms have expressed concern over.

Leading business chambers have also conveyed their concern to the government over “dumping” of Chinese goods in the Indian market as China was facing a slump in the western economies.

The Indian Government, on its part, has initiated the maximum number of anti-dumping investigations against imports from China.

For strengthening the commercial ties, Mr. Wen also suggested early consultations by the Joint Economic Group. He also said he would encourage the Chinese companies to invest in India and welcome Indian investment in China.

Prime Minister Mr. Singh described India’s economic and trade relations with China as a “vital pillar” of the partnership.

He also referred to bilateral exchanges in the field of defence

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