Narendra Modi presented trade data to Xi Jinping: Hardeep Singh Puri

At informal Mamallapuram summit, response was positive, say Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Commerce.

Updated - October 24, 2019 11:33 am IST

Published - October 23, 2019 11:10 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Commerce. Photo: Twitter/@MIB_India

Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Commerce. Photo: Twitter/@MIB_India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a detailed presentation with data and graphs to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the huge deficit in bilateral trade between the two countries during the second informal summit at Mamallapuram, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Commerce, said on Wednesday.

“On trade, the response was positive to the PM’s detailed exposition with graphics and data on why the trade deficit has become economically unsustainable and is also assuming politically sensitive dimensions. The visiting dignitary spoke of taking sincere action, and to reduce trade deficit, specific products and sectors were identified — sugar, rice, pharma and so on,” he said at a discussion on the “The Chennai spirit: India-China relations” organised by the India Foundation.

India has raised concerns over the widening trade deficit in bilateral trade, which currently stands at about $53 billion.

‘Chinese grievances’

Further, Mr. Puri stated that while Mr. Modi talked to his counterpart with graphs and data, the Chinese response was the “interesting one”:

“It was that we were sensitive and something has to be done.” In this regard, he stated that, on trade, the Chinese too “have some grievances, quite a few”. They talk about how “we are being being less than equitable when it comes to 5G and Huawei”, he said.

The External Affairs Minister was nominated from the Indian side for the high-level mechanism to monitor this process along with the Chinese Vice-Premier, Mr. Puri noted.

The Minister added that on investment, Mr. Xi accepted the PM’s suggestion for channelling Chinese investments in identified Indian priority sectors, and explore possibilities of manufacturing partnerships in some of them.

 

On the issue of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Association of South East Asian Nations and its six FTA partners, Mr. Puri said that in response to Mr. Xi’s remarks on the need for an early outcome, Mr. Modi spoke about the need for a balanced outcome involving goods, services and investments.

“When PM raised the issue of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), he was very clear that it has to cover goods and services. It has to be overall thing. The areas of interest to India cannot be excluded. That would be a very asymmetrical way to enter RCEP,” he added.

On the broader discussion between the two leaders who held six hours of one to one conversations in addition to the delegation levels talks and the lunch, Mr. Puri said Mr. Xi “did not raise 370 or Kashmir but briefed PM on Imran Khan’s visit on October 8-9... stressing that he had told Imran Khan that China couldn’t be a mediator.”

Mr. Puri referred to the informal summits as a “consolidation of the strategic communication process.” On the choice of Chennai and Tamil Nadu for the second informal summit Mr. Puri said it was to underline the “antiquity, continuity, diversity and richness of our culture” and also to underscore the historical, maritime, trade and cultural ties with China including Fujian where Mr. Xi was Governor and to showcase Tamil Nadu.

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