China has agreed to send a high-level official team led by Commerce Minister Zhong Shan by December-end to address the issue of growing trade imbalance with India. The development could be termed a breakthrough for India which faces ballooning goods trade deficit with its neighbour.
China — which was earlier dilly-dallying on a bilateral meeting on the issue despite India’s repeated requests — has now relented, official sources said. The development assumes significance as it comes amid reports of the possibility of the ongoing Doklam stand-off hurting bilateral trade ties.
The sources said China is keen to ensure that trade with India is not adversely affected by the prevailing military tension. In case of a full-fledged ‘trade war,’ China will have much to lose with its goods exports to India in 2016-17 valued at a whopping $61.3 billion against India’s shipments worth just $10.2 billion to that country.
On several occasions, New Delhi had pointed out to Beijing that many Indian products, including from agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors, were facing difficulties in getting access to the Chinese market and that this was among the main factors widening India’s goods trade deficit with China at a rapid pace — from just $1.1 billion in 2003-04 to a whopping $51.1 billion in the last fiscal.
The trade deficit was $52.7 billion in 2015-16.
The sources said Beijing had agreed to address India’s concerns regarding China’s ‘Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures’ (regarding ‘application of food safety, and animal and plant health norms’) hurting Indian farm products exports to that country. Chinese authorities have also decided to look into India’s request to remove the ‘curbs’ on Indian pharmaceutical companies/products — especially those having the approval of American, European and Japanese regulators. Besides, Beijing would also soon take a call on removing the difficulties faced by the Indian IT/business process management sector in getting greater market access in China.
Meanwhile, RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) said it will intensify efforts for a “people’s movement” to ‘boycott’ Chinese goods imports. Deepak Sharma, national spokesperson, SJM, told The Hindu that “the SJM will conclude its ongoing ‘nation-wide campaign’ against ‘Chinese items and investment’ on October 29 at a planned massive rally in Delhi that is likely to be attended by about two lakh people.” He said “the movement had received the backing of about 1.1 crore people so far.” Mr. Sharma said “the Indian Government should impose anti-dumping duties on all unfairly low-priced imports from China and take all measures allowed within the World Trade Organisation-framework against China.”
Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told Rajya Sabha on August 9 that: “Anti-dumping duty is in force on 93 products concerning imports from China, covering products in broad groups of chemicals and petrochemicals, products of steel and other metals, fibres and yarn, machinery items, rubber or plastic products, electric and electronic items and consumer goods. “In addition, 40 cases concerning imports from China have been initiated by Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties.”
On August 22, Indian Embassy in Beijing said the decision to impose anti-dumping duties on the 93 products “were taken over a course of previous five years.”