Beijing: China's trade with South Asian nations including India has touched a whopping USD 100 billion even as the deficit in trade between the two countries neared USD nine billion in the first four months of this year.
Trade volume between China and South Asian nations jumped from USD 35 billion in 2006 to about USD 100 billion in 2013, but the fast growth features a rising trade imbalance with China exporting more, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The India-China trade topped much of the USD 100 billion as the bilateral trade totalled USD 65.47 billion in 2013 with trade deficit mounting to USD 31.42 billion.
Indian officials said the trade deficit averaged about USD 35 billion in the last three years.
According to latest figures from China's customs, the total volume of the trade from January to April this year amounted to USD 21.98 billion. India's exports totalled USD 6.57 billion while the imports amounted to USD 15.41 billion -- a deficit of USD 8.84 billion.
The huge trade deficit figured high on today's talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in New Delhi. Wang arrived in India on a two-day visit to establish first contacts with the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two leaders discussed ways to increase Chinese investments in India through setting up industrial parks and infrastructure projects. They also discussed ways to address India's concern of huge trade deficit of nearly USD 40 billion.
India also seeks access for Indian IT and Pharmaceutical companies into Chinese market and wants Beijing to ramp up its investments in the country from the present USD 900 million.
While a Chinese team has already visited India to identify locations, several Indian states have made presentations in the last few months outlining the facilities including land to be provided to potential Chinese investors.
At the ongoing second China-South Asia Expo, which kicked off on June 6, in the capital city of Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province, officials and businessmen from China and South-Asian countries have pledged more investment, upgrade exports and domestic industries to seek trade balance.
Not only India but several South Asian nations including Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are pressing China to import more to offset the deficit.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who attended the Kunming expo, said China is welcome to import more clothes, handicrafts and leather products from Bangladesh.
She hoped Chinese investors would focus more on high value-added goods in fields of medicine, ship-building and communication, the Xinhua report said.
Sri Lanka wants collaboration in rubber, mineral and fish, and more investment in the country to eschew the deficit.
For its part China has promised to step up investments in almost all the South Asian countries.
In his talks with Hasina, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said China is ready to work with Bangladesh to push the building of the 21st century maritime Silk Road and the construction of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor.
He said China will encourage Chinese companies to invest in Bangladesh and expand imports from Bangladesh, in order to improve the trade imbalance.
Wang told Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala that China will encourage enterprises to invest in bilateral projects in road, hydropower, tourism and herbal medicine.
China also assured Maldives that it is willing to help the country to boost tourism, encourage investment in Maldives's tourism infrastructure, and enhance bilateral cooperation in port, airport, fishing and in coping with climate change.
First Published: Sunday, June 8, 2014, 22:08