India and China, on Monday, signed a series of memorandum of understandings (MoUs) on pharmaceuticals, buffalo meat and fisheries and an agreement on feed and feed ingredients to address the growing trade deficit.

The trade deficit has increased from $1.08 billion in 2001-02 to $40.77 billion in 2012-13. The MoUs were signed as part of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the signing of the MoUs between India and China was a good beginning to address the issues that India was raising with China from time to time. “All the sectors are of immense trade importance to India and India has clear price and quality competitiveness in these sectors to compete in the world market,” he added.

The MoU for the export of buffalo meat from India to China was signed between Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). The export of buffalo meat is not allowed from India to China and this has been a long-pending issue between the two countries. With the resumption of trade, India hopes that it will not only be helpful in reducing trade imbalance but also help China’s food security by providing quality and hygiene meat products.

The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and AQSIQ also signed an MoU on co-operation for import and export of fishery products. The MoU aims to institutionalise co-operation in promoting trade of fishery products. India is expecting to export more to China through this co-operation.

An MoU was also signed between the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products (CCCMHPIE). India has been finding it difficult to expand its trade with China in the pharmaceutical sector. The signing of the MoU is expected to facilitate access to the Chinese market.

The average imports of medicinal and pharmaceutical products from China during the last five years were $4332.37 million vis-à-vis exports from India of $692.44 million. An agreement was also signed between Export Inspection Council of India (EIC) and AQSIQ on trade and safety of feed and feed ingredients.

Bilateral trade between India and China has gone up from $2.09 billion in 2001-02 to a high of $75.59 billion in 2011-12; which tapered to $67.83 billion during 2012-13.

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