New Vistas for India-China Economic and Trade Partnership


Li Baijun, Economic and Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of China, Delhi

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China concluded in October. In the meeting, Comrade Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), reviewed the achievements of the past 5 years and charted a new course for China’s future political, economic, cultural and social development. Moreover, President Xi’s report pointed out the right direction for developing China-India economic and trade relationship. In the future, following the principles of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, we will use three “keys” to unlock the potential of the inseparable, balanced and mutually beneficial China India economic and trade cooperation in the “new era”.

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First, build key relationships- to become trading partners based on equality and mutual benefit. As mentioned in the report of the 19th CPC National Congress, China remains firm in its commitment to building a community with a shared future for mankind and forging new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation. This is the principles China adheres to in attaining peaceful development and participating global governance. China and India are good neighbors, friends and trading partners. Since 2014, after President Xi visited India, the two leaders have met more than 10 times on various occasions, reached important consensus and charted the right direction for China-India economic and trade cooperation. In the BRICS Xiamen Summit this September, President Xi stressed the importance of “the dragon and elephant dancing together” and avoiding conflicts. Prime Minister Modi also emphasized that with good bilateral relationship, 1 plus 1 could equal 11. To achieve this, we should further our practical cooperation, utilize intergovernmental and inter-corporate cooperation mechanisms to improve our economic strength and competitiveness.
With the economic and trade mechanisms like JEG, SED and China-India Financial Dialogue playing more important roles, our strategic synergy will be enhanced, trade and investment will be facilitated, bilateral trade will be more balanced and massive project cooperation will be more active. All these will lead to a spectacular future for our economic development. Meanwhile, we should also strengthen our cooperation and coordination in WTO, RCEP and other multilateral mechanisms to promote globalization and protect the overall interests of developing countries and foster more inclusive, equal and mutually beneficial economic and trade relations.

Second, focus on key issues- to build a more balanced trade structure. It is stressed in the 19th CPC National Congress that China would pursue open, innovative, and inclusive development that benefits all, that China would not close its door to the world but would only become more open. For a long time, the imbalanced trade between China and India has been a stubborn obstacle holding back our economic and trade relations. I’m very happy to see that with joint efforts from both sides, our trade volume may exceed 80 billion dollars this year, reaching a 5 year high. More importantly, China’s import from India has increased more than 20% while export to India remains nearly the same.

In 2018, China will host the first China International Import Exposition. This is the first large scale import themed exposition and an innovation in international trade development. We welcome the Indian businesses to showcase Indian products in the event along with goods from all over the world. We believe this will open new channels for Indian goods entering Chinese families. We will work on expanding our cross-border trade, import more agricultural products from India, and promote build-to-order business models. We hope to finish FTA to enhance the level and scale of our trade, increase our import from India, opening our market wider and achieve more balanced trade with India.

Third, develop key areas-to build a mutually beneficial investment system. As emphasized in the 19th CPC National Congress report, China would give equal importance to “bringing in” and “going global,” following the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration; and be more open and cooperative to enhance innovation capacity. With these efforts, we hope to break new grounds in opening China further through links running eastward and westward, across land and over sea. China has always made out-bound investments with the belief of creating mutual benefits. As statistics show, from 2012 to 2016, Chinese corporations have paid more than 13.7 million USD in taxes, created over 1 million jobs, and made contributions to host nations and the world economy. In recent years, many economic and trade agreements in industrial park and cooperation on production capacity have been signed between China and India, establishing great platforms for investment cooperation. A group of famous Chinese corporations like Alibaba, Fosun, SAIC Motor, China Fortune Land Development have come to invest in India. These corporations not only provided funding and technical support for “Make in India “and “Start-up India”, reduced trade deficit between the two countries, but also provided jobs and tax revenue for their host states. They are highly recognized by the state governments. On November 16th, I attended the Haier’s Industrial Park (Pune) Inaugural Ceremony. During the event, I had an in-depth discussion with Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He praised the progress Haier has made in Maharashtra and called it a great epitome of foreign enterprises participating “Make in India”.

This year, in World Bank’s ease of doing business index, India’s ranking jumped from 130th to 100th, making one of the biggest improvements among all the countries. This will further encourage Chinese corporations to invest more in India Riding on this trend, we should work harder to optimize investment environment, push forward the revision of bilateral agreements like investment protection agreement and agreement for the avoidance of double taxation. This will create a better investment environment for corporations, regulate Chinese corporation’s investment in India and realize the social responsibilities of the corporations. Moreover, we should encourage Indian corporations to invest in China in areas with comparative advantages, like Pharmacy and IT. In this way, we can create a friendly, complementary and mutually beneficial two-way investment system.

As a ancient Chinese poem goes, a thousand sails pass by the shipwreck, ten thousand saplings shoot up beyond the withered tree–new things come to the fore while old things perish. As H.E. Ambassador Luo Zhaohui said time and time again, China-India relations cannot afford to wander, stall or go backwards. We need to move in the right direction and implement the consensus our leaders reached in Xiamen Summit. We should focus on cooperation instead of differences, solve problems to create a more healthy bilateral relationship. I believe, with the guidance of our leaders and the guiding principles of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China and India economic and trade cooperation will bring real benefits to our governments, business communities and ordinary people. It will become the bedrock and thruster of our bilateral relationship. With the development of this relationship, the day when “China and India speak in one voice, and the world listens”