India is lobbying hard to sell buffalo meat, tobacco and oilmeal to China encouraged by its success in convincing its neighbour to buy Basmati rice from the country.
New Delhi has raised the red flag over the huge trade imbalance in Beijing’s favour and has said that buying more farm products from the country by removing ‘unnecessary’ quality restrictions is one of the ways to bridge it.
“We are seriously pushing China to start buying buffalo meat and tobacco from us and also resume import of oilmeal. Expediting the formalities for Basmati imports is also something we are stressing on so that exports can start,” Commerce Ministry Joint Secretary Asit Tripathy told Business Line.
China’s trade surplus with India was nearly $40 billion in 2011-12 and touched $29 in the first eight months of the current fiscal.
“There is little we can do in terms of limiting Chinese imports as Indian industry needs Chinese equipment and machinery. We can try to lessen the deficit by selling more of our products, especially agriculture produce and pharmaceuticals,” another official said.
The negotiations on farm products are being carried out by the Ministry together with the Agriculture & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) , the Government’s body for promoting farm exports.
“China holds a lot of potential for buffalo meat as it is a big consumer and our exports can touch $1 billion in the first two years itself,” Tripathy, who is also the Chairman of Apeda, said.
India is amongst the three largest exporters of bovine meat that includes Australia and Brazil and is slated to take the top spot in 2013 with a 30 per cent growth from 1.66 million tonnes to 2.15 million tonnes, according to industry estimates.
The US Department of Agriculture had predicted that India will be the top bovine meat exporter in 2012 itself, but the comparable figures are yet to come.
China does not import buffalo meat from India as it is on the list of countries afflicted by the foot and mouth disease. Indian officials argue that production and processing of meat takes place following exact norms prescribed by the international quality prescriber OIE and there is no consumer risk what-so-ever.
India also wants China to resume imports of oilmeal that was suspended last year as traces of a chemical found in the green dye in sacks was detected by authorities. Indian exporters have now agreed to send their shipments in plastic bags.
China has also been discussing norms to import tobacco from India for the past couple of years but has not finalised things yet. “We hope to move on to other farm products, once we start exporting the ones with greatest potential,” the official said.