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China To Address Trade Imbalance

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China has said that it would take all possible steps to address India's concerns about the widening trade imbalance in its favour and assured a level playing field to Indian companies, including pharma and IT, wanting to exploit the Chinese market.

Noting that there is a huge scope to further scale up trade and investment, Deputy Director General of Commerce Ministry Liang Wentao said the bilateral trade volume, which hit a record USD 73.9 billion last year, was still relatively "small" compared to size of the economy of both countries.

Interacting with the visiting journalists here, Wentao - the point man for trade issues with India - listed steps to address the problem of trade surplus in China's favour.

He said the Chinese government has already asked its banks and financial institutes to extend funds to Indian companies in China.

"We have told our financial institutes to extend help to Indian companies without any limit," Wentao said, exuding confidence about meeting the annual bilateral trade target of USD 100 by 2015.

Holding that the Chinese government never favoured any trade surplus in its favour "intentionally", he said the Chinese government has been initiating a number of steps to bridge the gap which include giving Indian companies access to exploit China's annual import market of USD 1.4 trillion.

Indian has been expressing concerns over the ballooning trade surplus in China's favour, which piled up to USD 27.07 billion in 2011 even though Indian exports to the neighbouring country went up to USD 23.4 billion. India has long been pushing for market access to Indian pharmaceutical and IT companies.

Asked about providing access to Chinese market to Indian pharmaceutical companies, Wentao admitted that there was lack of understanding about the Indian pharma products in China but ruled out any discrimination against them.

"We know India is very developed in pharma industry. We are the ones who are talking to our bureaucracy in trying to raise their awareness about Indian pharmaceutical products...

However, I would like to say that we do not have any discrimination against the Indian companies," he said.

He also attributed lack of "patience" and man power of Indian companies for not being able to exploit the Chinese pharmaceutical market, noting that rules and regulations for all the foreign countries are same.

On granting greater access to Indian IT firms, he noted that India has stronghold over the sector but said Chinese firms are also getting international contracts, and they may face competition with each other.

Asked about high tariff structure which has been impacting India's exports to the country, Wentao said the duties are in tune with WTO mechanism.

Calling for further growth in bilateral trade, Liang said India is one of the most important trading partners of China and current volume of trade does not reflect the size of population and economic growth rate of the two countries.

"China is called world's manufacturer while India is called world's office due to its dominance in software and IT... I think bilateral trade can go up significantly considering our economic strength and population," Wentao said.

The Commerce Ministry has initiated a trade and investment facilitation programme to raise awareness about Indian products so that import increases significantly.

"The mutual investment is very small. We still lack better mutual understanding. We still do not each other very well in terms of trade and business," Wentao said, adding that India's investment in China last year was USD 442 million while Chinese FDI was 576 million.


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