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Growing trade imbalance not sustainable, India tells China

The growing bilateral trade imbalance, skewed heavily in Beijing’s favour, is not sustainable, India conveyed to China on Tuesday during an annual economic dialogue between the two Asian giants grappling a festering border dispute amid calls for greater economic cooperation.

india Updated: Mar 19, 2014 00:42 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The growing bilateral trade imbalance, skewed heavily in Beijing’s favour, is not sustainable, India conveyed to China on Tuesday during an annual economic dialogue between the two Asian giants grappling a festering border dispute amid calls for greater economic cooperation.

Calculated at $35 million, the deficit is not only eating into India’s share of bilateral business, it also raises the spectre among many that China is dictating terms of the trade between the two countries. Simply put, China exports more to India than the other way around.

And Beijing’s continued reluctance to open up its market to Indian products, like medicines and software technology, could eat into the fledgling confidence required for a balanced bilateral trade between countries long plagued by mistrust borne of reasons historical.

“I must, at this stage, mention the growing imbalance in our trade which is a cause of concern in India,” the Planning Commission deputy chief, Montek Singh Ahluwalia told a gathering of Chinese peers.

India’s indignation on the trade imbalance has been shared with the Chinese before. But whether Beijing was looking to address it wasn’t clear after Ahluwalia’s interaction with the Indian media on Tuesday evening.

Ahluwalia is leading a delegation of Indian bureaucrats and technocrats to Beijing for the SED to thrash out broad parameters of economic cooperation with Chinese officials, led by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) head, Xu Shaoshi.

At the interaction over coffee and cookies, Ahluwalia said India was looking at China to speed up its railways, and not build a high-speed railway network.

Japan is doing a feasibility study to build a high-speed rail network in India. But China, according to him, could help India in increasing the Indian railways to increase its speed, rebuild stations, and help in hauling larger amount of freight.