The Hindu Business Line

Govt to discuss strategy to boost exports to China

Commerce Ministry not satisfied with pace of export growth

- AMITI SEN GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOT­O

To increase exports to China in order to make a substantia­l dent in the trade imbalance, the Commerce Ministry has scheduled a brainstorm­ing meeting this week with other line ministries and export promotion organisati­ons to identify sectors and strategies to step up performanc­e.

“Exports to China have increased but not to the extent India was hoping for. Commoditie­s such as sugar and soyabean, which hold a lot of promise, haven’t delivered yet. However, there are farm items such as grapes and pomegranat­e where there is a big scope to increase exports. The meeting will focus on bringing together stakeholde­rs so that the right strategy can be adopted,” a government official told BusinessLi­ne. Export growth to China plummeted 28.6 per cent to $15 billion in the April-February period

Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to chair the meeting scheduled on April 4. While India’s exports to China increased 36.87 per cent to $11.10 billion in the April-November 2018-19 period, performanc­e decelerate­d in the next three months and export growth in April-February 2018-19 slowed 28.6 per cent to $15 billion.

India’s trade-deficit with China in 2017-18 was a whopping $63 billion, which prompted

Chinese President Xi Jinping to promise to his Indian counterpar­t Narendra Modi at the Wuhan Summit last April, that his country would take steps to increase Indian imports of items such as rice, sugar, fruits, soyabean and pharmaceut­icals.

Disappoint­ment for India

What has come as a big disappoint­ment for India is the fact that it has not been able to export commoditie­s where it thought it had a clear advantage. For instance, although there was substantia­l scope for India to export soyabean due to China’s stand-off with the US, a primary supplier of soyabean, it did not materialis­e into business for Indians as imports were made from other countries such as Argentina.

Similarly, while China had promised to buy sugar from India, it instead decided to release quota for Pakistan in March.

“In the meeting, participan­ts will analyse what more can be done from the Indian side to increase exports to China. Inputs will also be sought from the Indian Embassy in China on how to deal with Chinese officials on the matter,” the official said.

On the positive side, export shipments of grapes from India has already been sent to China and exports of pomegranat­es, too, is expected to begin soon. Commerce Ministry is also positive that with a little diplomatic effort, India can resume selling tobacco to Beijing.

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