China says Indian trade curbs are against WTO principles

‘Additional barriers violate principle of non-discrimination’

India’s recent policy to curb opportunistic takeovers of domestic companies goes against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) principles, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy here said on Monday.

This is the first response from the Chinese side after the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in an April 17 decision imposed restrictions saying companies from countries that share borders with India can invest “only under the government route”.

“The additional barriers set by Indian side for investors from specific countries violate the WTO’s principle of non-discrimination, and go against the general trend of liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment. More importantly, they do not conform to the consensus of the G20 leaders and Trade Ministers to realise a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open,” said Counsellor Ji Rong, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy.

The official pointed at the Chinese investments in various sectors of the Indian economy. He said China's overall investment as of December 2019 was above $ 8 billion and it had driven key sectors like telecom, infrastructure, automobile and household goods in India. The revision was meant for sectors and enterprises other than defence, space, atomic energy and sectors and activities “prohibited for foreign investment”.

It was understood that the Indian decision was a response to the news of an incremental purchase of shares in HDFC by the People’s Bank of China.

The Chinese spokesperson invoked the principle of free market economy and said, “Companies make choices based on market principles. We hope India would revise relevant discriminatory practices, treat investments from different countries equally, and foster an open, fair and equitable business environment”.

The statement said the new policy was clearly going to impact future investment from China.

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