INTERVIEW: China may allow access to more Indian commodities in the near term: TPCI chairman

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By Ritwik Sinha

Against the backdrop of the bruising US-China trade spat, Indian exporters are hopeful that Beijing will allow direct access to Indian commodities and products soon.

China, one of India’s biggest bilateral trade partners,  is currently engaged in a bitter tariff war with the Trump administration, forcing it to redraw its international trade strategy.

This is likely to benefit India which has been seeking direct access for more products and commodities, according to Mohit Singla, Chairman, Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI).

Mohit Singla, Chairman, Trade Promotion Council of India

“We expect China will soon open up its market for Indian meat, black tea and vegan products. Both sides are also talking for access of fish oil, rapeseeds and soybean products from India. Following pressure from the West especially the US, China is looking at ways to consolidate its trading relationship with other economies,” Singla told IndoAsiancommodities.com in an interview.

China’s growing liberal attitude for Indian products emerged last year when it gave the nod to import non-basmati rice from 24 mills. Currently, Indian products like meat are finding their way to China through Vietnam and other countries. But Indian producers and exporters are pressing for direct access which will make them more price competitive.

At around $90 billion annual trade, China is the biggest bilateral trade partner of India. US occupies the second rank with an estimated $85 billion.

Latest data showed the trade deficit coming down by $10 billion to $53 billion. It has been widely interpreted as a sign of China’s growing Chinese leniency to allow import of products and commodities from India (exports from India went up from $13 billion to $17 billion in the last fiscal year).

But Singla, cautioned against reading too much into the surge in Indian exports to China.

“While it is true that the trade deficit has come down in favour of India and Indian exports have gone up, the drop in Chinese exports to India has been compensated by a simultaneous surge in imports from Hong Kong,” he said. 

Imports from Hong Kong in 2018-19 went up to $29 billion – a rise of $3 billion as against the 2017-18 figure.

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