New Delhi: Expressing concern over ballooning trade deficit with China, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Thursday said Indian exporters should get greater market access in the neighbouring country.
"We have a huge trade deficit with China and what is a cause of serious worry for us is the composition of trade with China as India remains an exporter of raw-material and importer of finished manufactured goods. This is untenable and we have taken this up at the highest level," he said.
He was speaking at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations function of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) here.
The estimated trade deficit of USD 39.65 billion was in the favour of China.
"Indian exporter deserves a greater market access in China (in sectors like) IT and pharmaceutical...We have taken up this issue at the highest level with the leadership in China," Sharma said.
"We must also remain mindful of the fact that China has emerged as our largest trading partner at USD 69 billion which is a natural phenomena given our geographical proximity with it," he added.
On the proposed India-EU free trade agreement, he said that both the sides are in advance stages of negotiations.
"Much have been commented about it, written about it...I would like to say one thing, some times pure speculative analysis can confuse people and create avoidable concerns and panic. Our negotiators are working within the defined mandate," Sharma said.
He added that the negotiators are taking care of all the sensitivities of the domestic industry and "at the same time we ensure that we get more market access (in sectors such as) IT, pharmaceutical and textiles".
Several rounds of meetings have already been held between the two sides since the negotiations for the Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) were launched in June 2007 but both the sides are still engaged in bridging the gaps on several issues.
EU is pressing for significant duty cuts in auto, wines and spirits and dairy products, besides hike in FDI cap in the insurance sector and a strong intellectual property regime. On the other hand, India wants liberalised visa norms for its professionals, data secure status and market access in services, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and textiles sector.
On exports, he said that situation in Europe remains grim while Japan and the US are facing challenges and parts of North Africa and Middle East which experienced turbulent uprisings are yet to find a stable equilibrium.
Sharma said the ministry's initiative of market diversification of export market has yielded positive results.
"Our export basket has a completely different composition. Today our trade with Africa is USD 70 billion, accounting for nearly 9 percent of our trade basket, Latin America accounts for USD 43 billion of trade (5.5 percent), Asia at USD 354 billion (45 percent)," Sharma said.
Within Asia, ASEAN group of countries accounts for over USD 75 billion which is around 10 percent of India's total trade," he said.
"It is indeed a significant development that our trade with ASEAN and Africa together is more than our trade with US and yet Europe still remains our largest trading partner accounting for USD 140 billion (nearly 18 percent of our total trade)," he added.