Chinese Vice-Minister Hu Wei to visit India next week for trade talks

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on November 23, 2018 Published on November 23, 2018

Officials from the two sides to take stock of measures taken to narrow trade gap

Chinese Vice-Minister Hu Wei will visit India next week to hold bilateral trade talks with officials in the backdrop of Beijing’s growing trade tensions with the Donald Trump administration in the US.

“Wei is scheduled to hold discussions with Commerce Ministry officials on November 28. Although bilateral trade and investment ties would be the centre point of the agenda, the timing of the meeting is important with the G-20 meeting scheduled later in the month in Argentina and the growing acrimony between China and the US,” a government official told BusinessLine.

India and China are in intense discussions over removal of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to help increase trade between the two countries. The focus is especially on increasing imports from India to China to help address the problem of the growing trade gap between the two that has crossed $60 billion last year.

“China has recently started importing non-basmati rice from India and has also signed contracts for import of sugar. Officials are expected to do a stock-taking on how things are progressing in these two areas and if further steps need to be taken,” the official said.

Beijing is also close to coming to an agreement with India on allowing import of soyabean and soyameal and Indian officials will try to expedite the talks. Besides, efforts are also on to create conditions for higher exports of pharmaceuticals and IT from India to China.

“There were a number of areas that have been identified by the two countries where India could gain increased market access. While work has begun in some areas, in others more efforts need to be put. Indian officials are expected to focus on such areas in the meeting with the Chinese Minister,” the official said.

Trade row with US

The Trump administration’s growing acrimony with China and a joint strategy to overcome the unilateral barriers being placed by the US on flow of trade, like the penal duties on steel and aluminium applied on items from both India and China, could also be discussed.

The hindrance in the process of appointment of judges at the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body put in place by the US is also another area of common concern.

“There is a possibility that the two sides may also discuss a common strategy for the forthcoming G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires beginning November 30,” a Delhi-based trade expert said.

Published on November 23, 2018

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