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India concerned over growing trade imbalance with China


New Delhi : India’s imports from China have been growing at over 35 percent during the past few years, says fresh data from the commerce ministry Thursday, underscoring the concern over balance of trade getting further skewed in favour of the neighbouring nation.

During 2008-09, imports from China touched Rs.147,605 crore (Rs.1,476 billion or $29.5 billion), an increase of 35.27 percent over the previous fiscal’s figure of Rs.109,116 crore (Rs.1,091 billion or $21.8 billion).

In the year before, the rise in imports was higher at 38.1 percent with shipments valued Rs.79,008 crore (Rs.790.08 billion or $15.8 billion).

The fresh data comes against the backdrop of the Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma’s visit to Beijing earlier this week where he took up the matter of easy access to Indian merchandise goods to China and the removal of non-tariff barriers.

According to an official statement, the Indian minister drew the attention of Chinese authorities to the large and growing trade deficit that is skewed in favour of China, and requested Beijing to take corrective steps to help reduce the imbalance.

He specifically requested his Chinese counterpart Chen Demingco, during a meeting of the India-China Joint Economic Group co-chaired by them, to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to the import of power plant equipment from India, and lift restrictions on import of basmati rice.

Senior officials here said Sharma also sought much greater access for domestic companies to the market of a country that has become India’s largest trading partner with two-way shipments valued at $45 billion, with a target of $60 billion this year.

“India is obviously concerned that the balance of trade is heavily skewed in China’s favour — as high as $14 billion. So, our minister focussed on easing of barriers, especially non-tariff barriers,” said one official.

Coinciding with the visit, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) had also dispatched an 11-member delegation to Shanghai and Beijing, led by its president Harsh Pati Singhania, and even came out with a position paper on economic ties between the two countries.

“Indian industry and business organisations have identified several constraints in promoting their exports to China,” the chamber said in a statement, adding these had been spelt out to Indian interlocutors before the minister’s visit.

“Among these are: Custom procedures, standards, certification, regulatory practices and quantitative restrictions. Perhaps, these hindrance from China have been partly responsible for this volatile nature of export growth of India with China.”