Yiwu: India has emerged as one of the top importers of small commodities from the world`s biggest wholesale market here, with 3.60 lakh Indian traders visiting the city last year to buy products worth USD 780 million, flooding the country with low priced Chinese goods.
The US edged past India in 2013 to become the highest importer from Yiwu while India retained second spot, City Vice Mayor Dong Feng Ming said. India was at the top in 2011-12.
Highlighting Yiwu`s increasingly close trade links with India, Ming said the trade gained `profound momentum` boosted by the visits of 3.60 lakh Indian businessmen last year.
The numbers of visiting Indian businessmen registered sharp rise compared to 2011 when 40,000 traders from India visited the city, which has emerged as the world`s biggest small commodities wholesale market selling about 1.80 million products at perhaps most cheapest rates.
In addition to that 1,089 Indian businessman are residing in Yiwu in Zhejiang Province. A number of Indian firms have 34 representative offices with 233 partnerships, Ming said.
Indian officials say that USD 780 million official trade between Yiwu and India perhaps undervalued as businessmen on both sides prefer to under invoice the prices to escape customs duties and related taxes.
Most of the money was reportedly exchanged through Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.
Also the business savvy Indian traders now branched out from supplying not only to India but have now become major suppliers of goods from Yiwu to Gulf, Latin America and Africa.
Already India is saddled with USD 35 billion deficit in the USD 66 billion bilateral trade between the two countries.
Significantly for Yiwu which designated to be a pilot project as an international trading centre has now become China`s biggest trade hubs with 5.5 million square kms housing 7.50 lakh shops. It takes one year for a person to visit all shops, Ming said.
Businessmen from all over the world visit Yiwu to procure variety of goods, including building materials in bulk, to sell them in their countries on far higher rates.
The Indian presence in Yiwu has increased despite unsavoury incident of two Indian traders Shaynm Sunder Agrawal and Deepak Raheja who faced prolonged cases for allegedly cheating local suppliers. The two were allowed to leave after an year with the intervention of the Indian government.
The Indian Consulate in Shanghai still has an advisory on its website cautioning trade with Yiwu.
Ming, however, said the city administration has formulated a new redressal mechanism to address the trade dispute between individuals, which should not be allowed to be spoil the overall trade relations.
Some Indian goods are also making waves in Yiwu`s international market where China has permitted to set up 50,000 shops from over 90 countries.
The most sought after Indian product was incense sticks and power from Mysore and Bangalore. Three different shops of Chinese traders procure the same product from India.
One shop - named `Passage to India` - sells several containers of perfumed products.
Also on demand are soap, coir and handicraft products from India, which are increasingly popular here.
One shopkeeper said they faced problems from Chinese customs in importing beauty oil products from India while the same is allowed to be imported through Hong Kong.