Beijing: India and China today agreed to set up a high level task force to look into ways to address New Delhi's concerns over widening trade deficit which has touched USD 48 billion in China's favour.
India is seeking greater market access in China for its products in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, IT and agriculture, which are facing regulatory hurdles there. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is here on an official visit, raised concerns over the expanding trade imbalance in favour of China after which the two sides decided to set up a high level task force to address it and other issues including market access.
“President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang were very receptive to the specific concerns I had raised on our growing trade deficit. We look forward to early impact on the ground,” Modi said.
“We have agreed to create a high-level task force to develop a strategic road-map to expand economic relations. It will cover a broad range of areas including Infrastructure, IT, Pharma, Agriculture and Manufacturing,” he added.
Trade deficit has increased by about 34 per cent to USD 48.43 billion in 2014-15 from USD 36.21 billion in the previous fiscal.
Modi said that “to maintain this partnership over the long run, we must also improve the access of Indian industry to the Chinese market. I am encouraged by President Xi's and Premier Li's commitment to resolve this problem”.
It was agreed that both sides will take necessary measures to remove impediments to bilateral trade and investment, facilitate greater market access to each other's economies. The two sides resolved to take joint measures to alleviate the skewed bilateral trade so as to realise its sustainability, said a joint statement.
“Such measures will include cooperation on pharmaceutical supervision including registration, speedier phytosanitary negotiations on agro-products for two-way trade, stronger links between Indian IT companies and Chinese enterprises, and increasing services trade in tourism, films, healthcare, IT and logistics,” it said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told media that the task force was being formed because there is not enough movement on India's calls for more access to pharma and IT markets which Indian officials have identified as the country's strong areas.
The two sides also decided to have a special mechanism to discuss issues related to WTO talks as both have the same approach on these.
According to provisional figures, India's exports to China stood at USD 11.95 billion in 2014-15, while imports amounted to USD 60.39 billion.