Corporates seek relaxed visas for Chinese labour

Written by Kirtika Suneja | Arup Roychoudhury | New Delhi | Updated: May 21 2013, 05:52am hrs
But oppose demand for free access

Indian corporate heads on Monday called for a relaxed visa regime for skilled Chinese manpower for certain projects in a bid to increase bilateral investment between the two Asian giants, but opposed a longstanding demand by China to give free access to its labour and workers into the country.

Members of India Inc such as ADAG's Anil Ambani, Essar Group's Shashi Ruia and GMR's G Subba Rao, who attended the meeting, also urged their Chinese counterparts to look at measures to import more finished and value-added products from India.

At the first India-China CEOs Forum organised by industry chamber Ficci, members of India Inc said that while the country would welcome technically qualified manpower from China to support some of the projects being executed by the Chinese side, it is difficult to accept the Chinese demand to provide free access to labour and workers from China.

Besides, Indian industry executives urged China to indigenise some of the products exported to India by setting up manufacturing plants and service centres in the country. The Indian side would duly protect the IPR of the Chinese companies. Further, with India setting up National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZ) across the country, the Chinese manufacturing units must come and use this opportunity and support the manufacturing sector's growth in the country.

In the context of promoting people-to-people contact, a suggestion was made to have more flights (direct flights) between the two countries, said a company official who attended the Ficci meeting. Company heads of both countries also asked the two governments to revive infrastructure financing by allowing Chinese banks to open more branches in India and giving a boost to rupee-remnibi trade.

China is India's largest trade partner, with bilateral trade between the two nations standing at $66 billion in 2012. However, the balance of trade is skewed heavily in favour of Beijing, with India exporting about $9.7 billion worth of goods and services, compared to $41.1 billion worth of imports from its neighbour in April-December 2012-13.

In the area of energy security, the two sides discussed the need to work on extending transmission lines. Moreover, the entertainment industry was also identified as a key area and the Chinese side was encouraged to market their locations amongst Indian producers for shooting of films.