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

Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in a meeting with Chinese Vice-Minister of Finance and Commerce Wang Shouwen, pointed out that 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 requested for expeditious clearances for import of Indian rice and a ‘Green Channel’ for import of Indian pharmaceutical products to China – especially those which already have US Food and Drug Administration and EU FDA accreditation, an official release said.

She expressed concerns at the long drawn procedures for clearances which tend to frustrate Indian companies, including IT firms, seeking business opportunities in China. The Minister requested for ‘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 the Chinese markets. He said that recently China had quickened the pace of granting clearances to Indian pharmaceutical companies for imports.

He asked for India’s cooperation in various multilateral fora where both countries are engaged, including the ambitious 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and assured that India’s concerns on a ‘single undertaking’ will be duly taken on board with services being an integral part of the cooperation.

New Delhi is apprehensive about offering tariff concessions under RCEP to China as it fears that imports from the country would rise further and widen the existing trade deficit.