New Delhi: As China cosies up with India on the trade front in the backdrop of harsh protectionist measures taken by the US, India has urged its northern neighbour to liberalize its visa regime for Indian professionals who are at present given work permits for only one year. Raising the matter during the China’s trade policy review at the World Trade Organization (WTO) last week, India highlighted the challenges Indian businesses face while doing business in China.
China has recently shown willingness to address India’s long-pending concerns on the trade front. Both sides held their long-pending 11th joint economic group meeting in May on one-month notice from the Chinese side and agreed to draw up a medium- and long-term roadmap with action points and timelines to address the trade deficit between them.
India’s representative at the WTO in a statement said that in the services sector, the challenges for Indian firms include complex requirements for participating in contracts of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and issues related to qualification requirements, licensing and taxation. “Indian professionals are also facing visa restrictions like permits being granted only for a year. We would encourage the Chinese authorities to look into these issues to resolve them early,” he added. Mint has reviewed a copy of India’s statement.
However, a later visit by Zhang Shaogang, director general in the Chinese ministry of commerce in June to resolve bilateral differences over Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) commitments was not very successful, as India refused to agree to China’s demand to eliminate tariffs in more than 90% of traded goods.
Holding that there is great scope for collaboration between Chinese state-owned enterprises and the Indian IT sector which can provide state-of-the-art custom-designed solutions, India asked for more openness of Chinese SOEs to accessing these services.
There have been a few success stories in India-China collaboration in the services sector. The Indian software lobby group National Association of Software and Services Companies has signed a joint investment agreement in December with the China’s Dalian Municipal People’s Government to develop a collaborative technology platform to leverage each other’s strength in technology. Apollo Hospitals is also building a modern hospital partnering with the Hainan Ecological Smart City Group.
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Both countries signed a protocol on export of non-basmati rice during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China in June, 2018. A Chinese team is currently visiting India to certify rice mills that can export non-basmati rice to China. “Early completion of this process is necessary as it not only meets a long-standing demand of India but will also help increase exports from India to the mutual benefit of both countries,” it said.
India also urged China to liberalize imports of agriculture products, including bovine meat that face challenges due to stringent and often opaque regulatory requirements.
India pointed out that trade with China is currently skewed in favour of China as it enjoys a bilateral trade surplus of $63 billion in 2017-18. “This large and growing deficit is difficult for India to sustain and therefore, serious efforts need to be made to remedy the situation,” it added.