India has submitted to China a list of 380 items, including agriculture, horticulture, pharmaceuticals, textiles, chemicals, tobacco and some engineering products, where the country has the potential to increase exports, provided Beijing cooperates by lowering non-tariff restrictions.

The Commerce & Industry Ministry, in a meeting with stakeholders this week, has asked various export promotion councils, including ones for spices, agriculture, engineering goods, pharmaceuticals, IT and organic chemicals, to prepare China-specific export strategy so that pointed action could be taken, a government official told BusinessLine .

“The Chinese leadership has already acknowledged that the growing imbalance in bilateral trade can be bridged mainly through increased exports from India. A beginning has been made with export protocols being signed between General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) and the Indian government for items such as fish, fish oil, rice and tobacco. But a lot more targeted efforts have to be made,” the official said.

New Delhi is disappointed that China has not yet imported soyabean from the country and has released quota for sugar import from Pakistan instead of India. But the fact that it has started importing Indian grapes and a number of other items such as pomegranates, bananas, copra, pineapple and chillies are in the pipeline, has kept India’s hopes up.

“The Chinese Vice-Minister for GACC is scheduled to visit New Delhi next month and finalise some more protocols for India’s exports. The Indian Embassy in China is also in constant touch with Chinese officials to expedite action in the area,” the official said.

India’s trade deficit with China had widened to $63 billion in 2017-18 which comprised more than a third of the country’s total trade deficit worth $156 billion.

However, in 2018-19, the trade deficit is likely to lower a bit as India’s imports from China have declined while exports have continued to increase. In April-February 2018-19, India’s exports to China increased 28.61 per cent to $15 billion while imports declined 6 per cent to $65 billion resulting in a trade gap of $50 billion.

The top items of export to China from India in 2018-19 were petroleum products, organic chemicals, cotton yarn, plastic raw materials and iron ore.

Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, who chaired the meeting attended by officials from key Ministries and Departments such as steel, pharmaceuticals, MSME, agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and IT, said the final goal for India should be to have a trade surplus with China.