Making a strong pitch for increasing its exports to China to reduce the trade deficit, India on Tuesday took part in China’s 2nd International Import Expo (CIIE) where it has been accorded the status as the “Guest of Honour Country”. An Indian delegation headed by Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan took part in the import expo which is aimed at enabling countries from the world over to showcase products to enhance their exports to China. China’s total imports last year amounted to USD 2.14 trillion.
In this year’s expo inaugurated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, India is among the fifteen nations given the symbolic designation of “Guest Countries of Honour”. The other countries are Cambodia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Peru, Russia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Zambia. A number of European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, took part in the import expo, which is being held from November 5 to 10 for businessmen.
It will open for public till November 20. Guests and representatives from more than 170 countries and regions have been invited to attend the expo, Vice Minister of Commerce, Wang Bingnan, told the media ahead of the expo. More than 500,000 buyers and visitors from home and abroad are expected at the expo, he said. It covered a total area of 30,000 square metres, the country exhibitions will host 64 countries and international organisations, with uniquely designed pavilions to showcase the countries’ development achievements, business environment and special industries, Wang said. Expectation from India and other countries to push their exports to China is high as the Chinese official media has reported recently that China Exim bank has setup up USD 42.5 billion credit line to aid imports.
State-run Xinhua news agency quoted the bank officials as saying that the bank will use the special fund to support companies to import products and services in the fields of advanced equipment, smart manufacturing and energy and resources and promote cross-border Renminbi settlement next year. China organised its first import expo last year amid growing protests from a number of countries, including India and the US, complaining of unmanageable trade deficits. While India’s trade deficit last year climbed to over USD 57 billion in little over US 95 billion total trade, the US trade deficit with China had mounted to USD 539 prompting President Donald Trump to launch a trade war demanding Beijing to open up.
The first phase of a deal to end trade war is expected to be signed this month. The India-China bilateral trade is expected to touch for the first time USD 100 billion this year. From India’s point of view, trade deficit with China has become a major issue. It was discussed during the 2nd informal summit last month between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi.
During their summit, the two leaders agreed to set up new mechanism led by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Chinese Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua to discuss trade, investment and services. “India plans to make use of the expo to showcase its major export items like pharmaceuticals, IT and agricultural products,” India’s Consul General in Shanghai Anil Rai told PTI earlier. “The products list India wants to push included food and agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, IT and consultancy services, Gems and Jewellery, Sports equipment, e-commerce and Fintech, engineering and machinery among others,” he said.
He said that about 100 Indian companies are taking part in the expo where more than 100 stalls have been setup. “Also India plans to hold an investment seminar on the side-lines on November 7 besides a Buyer Seller Meet,” he said. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) is the lead agency for the India Country Pavilion along with Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Kolkata, he said. Delegations from Maharashtra and Karnataka would also showcase the trade and investment opportunities from their states, he said.