Blanket ban on Chinese imports not possible: Sitharaman

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Chinese products are ‘smashing’ MSME sector, say Lok Sabha MPs

Questioned by some Lok Sabha members on the lack of curbs on imports from China, which have been rising, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said that while imports of several “sub-standard” products had been stopped, “a blanket ban” was not possible.

“Just because I don’t like a country, I cannot ban all the goods from that country,” she said during Question Hour, adding that, “a complete ban on import from any country is not possible under WTO (World Trade Organization) rules just because we have problems, diplomatically, territorially or militarily.”

The Minister was replying to queries from BJP member Bhola Singh and Biju Janata Dal’s Tathagata Satpathy, who wanted to know what the Centre was doing to prevent China from “smashing our MSME sector”.

Asking the government why it was “going soft” on China, Singh pointed out that India’s trade deficit with the neighbouring country had widened considerably, adding that the “economic face” of the country had to be different from the cultural one of friendliness.

Satpathy said that a “blanket ban” on Chinese products was the only answer to save medium, small, and micro enterprises (MSMEs) from being “trampled upon.”

Bridging trade deficit

Sitharaman, while expressing concern over the trade deficit, said several sector-specific actions had been taken to ensure import of only quality goods from China, citing the ban on milk and milk products, toys and certain mobile phones and steel products that did not adhere to safety standards.

She said India’s trade deficit with China stood at $48.68 billion in 2015-16 (April-February) and total bilateral trade for the period stood at $65.16 billion.

“The widening trade deficit with China can be attributed primarily to the fact that Chinese exports to India (are mainly) manufactured items to meet the demand from fast-expanding sectors like telecom and power, while India’s exports to China are primarily intermediate products,” she added.

Published on April 25, 2016

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