India’s trade deficit with China is a concern: Sitharaman

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New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) The Indian government is concerned about the country’s growing trade deficit with China and it is making efforts to realise greater access for Indian goods and services in the Chinese market, Parliament was informed on Monday.

“Trade deficit with China is a matter of concern. We are discussing the issue with China for greater access for Indian products and services in the Chinese market,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.

She said that with China topping the list of 25 countries with which India has a trade deficit in the last three years, even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue with the Chinese authorities at the highest level.

“Efforts are being made to increase overall exports by diversifying the trade basket with emphasis on manufactured goods, services, resolution of market access issues and other non-tariff barriers,” Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha in a separate written reply.

“This is done through bilateral meetings and institutional dialogues. Indian exporters are encouraged to participate in major trade fairs in China to show-case Indian products,” she said.

India’s trade deficit with China in 2016-17 had declined slightly to $51.08 billion, from $52.69 billion in 2015-16. It was at $48.48 billion in 2014-15.

The trade deficit with China for the month of April 2017 stood at $4.92 billion.

Sitharaman had earlier told Parliament that the increasing trade deficit with China can be attributed primarily to the fact that Chinese exports to India rely strongly on manufactured items to meet the demand of fast expanding sectors like telecom and power.

On Monday, the Minister also told the Lok Sabha that the Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) had initiated 62 anti-dumping investigations till date on imports from China, which comprises nearly one-fourth of the total investigations started against all countries since January 2012.

She had earlier spoken of the difficulties in accessing the Chinese market faced by Indian firms, particularly by those in the IT and pharmaceuticals sectors.

Among the countries with which India has favourable trade balance are the US, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bangladesh and UK.

Sitharaman said the government has taken a number of steps to overcome the overall trade deficit, which include New Foreign Trade Policy (2015-20), Merchandise Exports From India Scheme, the Services Exports from India Scheme and Niryat Bandhu Scheme

She said India has exported merchandise and services worth $230.36 billion between December 2016 and May 2017 to various countries.

In another written reply to the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said foreign direct investment (FDI) grew by 23 per cent to $10.02 billion during the April-May period of this fiscal.

In 2016-17, the FDI inflows aggregated $60.08 billion, she said.

“Except for a small negative list, most sectors are open for 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route,” the Minister said.

–IANS

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