Raising concerns about its gaping trade deficit with China, India has asked the country for fast clearance of its rice and pharmaceutical exports and grant of IT projects to Indian companies in addition to greater market access for items such as oilseeds and tobacco.

Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in a meeting with the Chinese Vice-Minister of Finance and Commerce, Wang Shouwen, said India has to be given greater market access for its goods for a long-term sustainable trade relationship.

India’s trade deficit with China crossed $52 billion in 2014-15 and accounted for almost half of the country’s total trade deficit.

Sitharaman sought expeditious clearances for import of Indian rice and a ‘Green Channel’ for import of Indian pharmaceutical products to China – especially those that have USFDA and EUFDA accreditation, an official release said.

She expressed concern at the long drawn procedures for clearances, which tend to frustrate Indian companies, including IT companies, seeking business opportunities in China.

The Minister requested ‘buying missions’ to India to source, amongst other things, Indian tobacco and oil meals.

The two leaders in consonance with the apex-level meetings convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, agreed that measures on providing greater market access for Indian goods and services in China need demonstrative action, the release added.

The Chinese Vice-Minister assured that China would act on the concerns expressed by India regarding market access for Indian goods in Chinese markets. He said China has quickened the pace of granting clearances to Indian pharmaceutical companies for imports.

He sought India’s cooperation at various multilateral forums where China and India are engaged, including the ambitious 16-member RCEP, and assured that India’s concerns on a ‘single undertaking’ would be taken on board, with services being an integral part of the cooperation.