"The dragon is out to overpower the elephant."
That’s an observation made by an analyst at a recent Chinese trade fair in the city — and it’s not far from the truth.
The Indian trading community’s craze for Chinese goods has soared drastically, tilting the scales in favour of China. The exhibition of Chinese products here that concluded on Saturday proves this.
Last year’s exhibition saw nearly 10,000 visitors from all over the country. This year, footfalls went up to more than 15,000 — up by 50 per cent.
The Indian market is already flooded with cheap Chinese — everything from stationery, beauty products, cosmetics and home appliances to handicrafts, toys, home appliances and garments.
Now, products such as motorbikes, agricultural machinery, electrical appliances, silk saris and Chinese beer are being aggressively marketed. These products will soon find shelfspace in shops.
Though these items are available at nearly one-third the cost of Indian products, the benefits may not be availed by the Indian consumer as the Indian dealers and distributors of Chinese goods will hike prices.
This is because of the secrecy maintained by Chinese manufactures about the exact prices of their products.
According to Rajesh Bhagat, Director, Worldex, a company that has been organising China Products (Mumbai India) Exhibitions for the last four years in the city, the Chinese are concentrating on India after strengthening their position in markets of advanced countries.
"Last year, only 75 companies participated in the annual exhibition. This year, the number has doubled. More than 80 per cent of the companies have come for the first time looking for agents and distributors. This shows their aggression for the Indian market," said Bhagat.
According to reports, China has a trade surplus of $3 billion in the first three months this year as against its trade deficit of less than $1 billion with India last year.
The Chinese trade authorities are in a hurry to meet the target — so much so that they want to achieve it two years in advance. Their trade target for India is $40 billion (Rs 1,80,000 crore) by 2010.
Vice-president of China Council for Promotion of International Trade (Guangdong Province) Bai Mingshao said: "Considering the growth, it will not be a surprise if the target is achieved by 2008."
He said Sino-Indian trade in the first seven months of this year touched $13.6 billion — 27 per cent more than last year. In 2005, India-China trade figure showed $18.7 billion — 37 per cent increase from the previous year. Three years ago in 2002, the total volume of bilateral trade was a paltry $5 billion.
According to trade analysts, India should react quickly to prevent Chinese aggression in the market. "We have strength in the area of insurance, banking, IT, services sector, food products and handicrafts," said an analyst, requesting anonymity.
"It’s high time India must have presence in these sectors in China before the Chinese acquire the skills in these fields. Then only can we match China, otherwise the dragon will overpower the elephant," he added.
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