Trade with China touched $90 billion in 9 months, but balance tilted: Shringla

Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said trade with China saw an increase of 49 per cent over last year’s transactions, but the balance was tilted towards the neighbouring country.

Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday bilateral trade with China touched $90 billion in the first nine months of the year, which was an increase of 49 per cent over last year’s transactions, but the balance is tilted towards the neighbouring country.

Speaking at a seminar, titled ‘Leveraging China’s Economy”, Shringla said, “At this rate, we are likely to attain highest-ever bilateral trade between the countries. However, the trade remains unbalanced in favour of China.”

He said the trade deficit concerns were two-fold, the first one being the actual size of the deficit. “Trade deficit for the nine-month period stood at $47 billion. This is the largest trade deficit we have with any country. Second is the fact that the imbalance has continuously been widening,” the foreign secretary was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Last year, the total trade volume between the two countries was around $88 billion.

The two nations have been engaged in a border dispute that has turned sometimes turned fiery for over a year now.

Stating that the widening deficit and increase in trade barriers had been highlighted at the highest levels as issues of concern, Shringla said the topic came for discussion most recently at the second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese President Xi Jinping in Chennai in 2019.

He said there were a number of market access impediments, including a whole host of non-tariff barriers, for most of our agricultural products and the sectors in which India was competitive, such as pharmaceuticals, IT/ITES and so on.

And, here came the need for Atmanirbhar Bharat, an India with greater capabilities in not just helping itself, but being a force for good in the international area, said Shringla.

“Even as we continue to pursue these issues with China, we also need to do work at home. That is why, Atmanirbhar Bharat becomes important,” he added.

The senior diplomat said ties between the two nations had generally followed a positive trajectory since 1988 when we re-established contacts at the highest level. “Advancement of ties in this period was clearly predicated on ensuring that peace and tranquillity were not disturbed. Areas of cooperation were not limited to bilateral, but also had regional and global dimensions. It was also recognised that relations between India and China were in the interest of not only the two countries but also in interest of peace, stability and security in the region and world at large.

“It was against this backdrop that bilateral trade between India and China has grown exponentially since the turn of the century,” he added.

Source: Hindustan Times

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