On her first visit to China, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held talks with her Chinese counterpart Gao Hucheng here during which she flagged India's concerns over the trade deficit which averaged over USD 35 billion a year and sought greater access to Indian goods and services.
The two sides later signed the MOU on Cooperation on Industrial Parks India to facilitate more Chinese investment in India to compensate the ballooning trade deficit, which now average around USD 35 billion a year. The bilateral trade totalled to USD 65.47 billion last year.
Ahead of her meeting with Gao, Sitharaman, who is part of the delegation of Vice President Hamid Ansari, told the media here yesterday that she will make a strong pitch for greater access for Indian goods and services into China and seek big ticket investments into the Chinese industrial parks.
India is expecting China to set up four industrial parks in different states.
According to Chinese officials, its current investments in India stands at USD 1.1 billion, mostly in Gujarat.
India is asking China to open its market for Indian IT and Pharmaceuticals besides step up investments to compensate the trade deficit.
She said she will press the Chinese minister to provide greater market access to Indian goods like gems, jewellery, grey cotton fabric, pharmaceuticals and IT.
"The larger backdrop with which we are working is that there is definitely a big imbalance with China," she said.
"We are importing lots more than we are exporting. The scope for Chinese to come to India to somewhat redress the imbalance to get their investments in India to set up manufacturing several goods to do some justice to redress the imbalance," she said.
"What I want to raise with the minister is that there is immense scope for Chinese investments in India both in manufacturing and other sectors in which Chinese do have an advantage whether it is infrastructure, railways. More such areas can be found where the Chinese investments can be encouraged," she added.
The MoU on flood data sharing will provide India with 15 days more of hydrological data of river Brahmaputra. The data helps India in flood forecasting.
India provides money for maintenance of three hydrological centres on the Chinese side. The data will be provided from May 15 to October 15 each year.
The third MoU will help the two countries establish a framework for regular interactions between administrative officials to share experiences and learn from each other's best practices. Specific programmes of cooperation will be worked out subsequently.
The MoU will ensure cooperation between Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie and China Executive Leadership Academy, Pudong, Shanghai.
The MOU envisages exchange of officials, cooperation in developing training programmes, field visits to each others countries.