Modi visit: India, China expand biz footprint with deals worth $22bn

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Shanghai
  • Updated: May 16, 2015 21:37 IST

India and China signed on Friday business deals worth $22 billion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making a sharp pitch to Chinese investors to pump in money into the manufacturing sector and infrastructure projects across India.

The 21 deals business-to-business deals covered a wide range of sectors including industrial parks, ports and financing.

At the function in Shanghai, Indian software giant Infosys unveiled the master plan of its new Shanghai campus and ICICI Bank announced inauguration of its first bank branch in China.

Officials said the figure of $22 billion included portions of the $20 billion of Chinese investment that was agreed during President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September.

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“We are very keen to develop the sectors where China is strong. We need your involvement. The scope and potential, the breadth and length of infrastructure and related developments is very huge in India,” Modi said during his address at the India-China Business Forum, titled: “Working towards a Sustainable Economic Partnership”.

It remains to be seen how much the new deals can help in reducing the deficit in Sino-India trade, which has been a sharp cause of concern for New Delhi.

Earlier, Modi had a closed-door meeting with 21 CEOs from across China’s leading companies.

Modi highlighted the complementarities of the two Asian countries by saying China was the factory of the world and India was the global back-office. Modi met top Chinese CEOs, including Alibaba's Jack Ma, and invited them to join the initiative.

The PM, on the final day of a three-day trip to the fellow Asian giant, assured them that his government will make it easy for them to do business in India.

He called them to take an active part in the “Make in India” campaign.

“The CEOs voiced their interest to deepen focus on India as a market and a production base, and more fully integrate India into their global plans. They were invited to share suggestions for further enhancing business ties between the two countries,” an official statement said about the meeting.

Modi was emphatic in his address the business forum, where he reiterated that India was ready to do business with China.

“As you have successfully done, we also want to promote manufacturing in a big way particularly to create jobs for our youth who form 65% of our population. Hence, we want to make things in India. For this purpose, we have launched a campaign called ‘Make in India'," he said.

China is India's biggest trading partner with two-way commerce totalling $71 billion in 2014. But India's trade deficit with China has soared from just $1 billion in 2001-02 to more than $38 billion last year, Indian figures show.

Modi added: “It is also the effort of my government to encourage innovation, R&D and entrepreneurship in the country. In this year’s budget, we have set up some innovative institutional mechanisms for that purpose. Many Chinese companies have the possibility of investing in India to take advantage of India’s potentials. The potential lies in manufacturing, processing as well as in infrastructure,” Modi told the gathering that included both Chinese and Indian businessmen.

“The sentiments for private investment and inflow of foreign investment are positive. FDI inflows have gone up by 39% during April-2014 and February 2015 against the same period in previous year,” the PM said.

Investment projects into India under the 'Make in India' initiative represent a significant component of the 21 agreements.

Modi's three-day China visit has witnessed a visible warming of ties between the two Asian giants but lingering problems remain, including tensions on the border, growing bonhomie between Beijing and Islamabad and an increasingly assertive Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.

The vexed India-China boundary issue failed to see much progress as both sides reiterated their position to seek "a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution as early as possible" after talks between Modi and Premier Li Keqiang.

Modi, who held one-on-one and later delegation level talks with Li, said he had held candid, constructive and friendly talks with the Chinese leadership that covered all issues, including "those that trouble smooth development of relations".

The Indian PM will now go to Mongolia and South Korea.


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