Modi asks Xi to do more to narrow trade deficit

Last Updated 12 October 2019, 05:02 IST

With his government in New Delhi allowing China’s Huawei and ZTE to take part in the 5G demos during the forthcoming India Mobile Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to take more measures to narrow the widening trade deficit.

Modi and Xi arrived at Mamallapuram near Chennai on Friday to hold their second “informal summit”. They will have a tête-à-tête at a resort on Saturday, before leading the official delegations of the respective governments for discussion on bilateral, regional and international issues.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told journalists that Prime Minister and Chinese President had held discussions on the measures required to narrow the widening trade deficit.

They are likely to continue the discussion on the issue on Saturday.

The volume of India’s bilateral trade with China grew by 13.19% to reach $ 95.54 billion.

Prime Minister underlined during his discussion with Chinese President that the volume of the bilateral commerce increased, the trade deficit also widened from $ 51.72 billion in 2017 to $ 57.86 billion in 2018 and it was a cause concern for New Delhi, sources told the DH in Mamallapuram.

The two leaders are likely to exchange views on the negotiation for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement on Saturday.

Since Modi and Xi held the first “informal summit” at Wuhan in central China in April 2018, Beijing did take certain measures to allay New Delhi’s concerns and simplified its regulatory processes to allow more imports from India, particularly for pharmaceuticals and certain agricultural products like soybean, rapeseed and non-basmati rice. Modi conveyed to Xi that while New Delhi appreciated Beijing’s initiative to simplify the regulatory processes for certain products, it had not yet translated into a significant rise in export of those products from India to China, sources said in Mamallapuram on Friday.

New Delhi nudged Beijing to provide greater market access in China for India’s pharmaceutical products and Information Technology services.

New Delhi sent out a positive signal to Beijing just ahead of Modi-Xi “informal summit”. It gave its nod for China’s telecom equipment manufacturing company Huawei to take part in 5G use case scenario demonstrations during India Mobile Congress, which would be held in the national capital from October 14 to 16. The government has not yet taken a call on Huawei’s plea to take part in the wider and broad-based 5G trials. But its nod for the company to present demonstrations on use cases scenarios in partnership with Airtel and Vodafone-Idea in India Mobile Congress is apparently aimed at striking a positive note just before the meeting between Prime Minister and Chinese President.

President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington D.C. earlier this year banned Huawei’s products in United States market; citing security concerns, particularly the possibility of China using its telecom equipment company for surveillance and espionage activities in America. It also barred US companies from supplying software and components to any entity in based in China.

Trump Administration has also been pressing New Delhi not to allow Huawei of China to roll out the 5G high-speed data network in India. During its recent visit to New Delhi last week, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross warned that India might expose itself to security risks, if it allowed use of Huawei’s 5G telecom equipment in India.

Beijing, however, has been calling upon New Delhi to take an “independent decision” on allowing Huawei’s plea for participation 5G trial in India.

Beijing’s envoy to New Delhi, Sun Weidong, said earlier this week that China encouraged its companies to invest in India and it would expect that India would provide them “a more fair, friendly and convenient business environment” for its companies. He told China Global Television Network that over 1,000 Chinese companies had invested about $ 8 billion in industrial parks, e-commerce and other sectors in India, creating 200,000 jobs. He also noted that China’s imports from India increased by 15% over the past five years. He also said that the potential for greater economic cooperation and trade between India and China was huge with the two nations being home to 2.7 billion people.

(Published 11 October 2019, 12:04 IST)

Follow us on