K Varma | PTI
India on Tuesday pressed China to import more Indian goods, especially pharmaceutical and IT products, as top commerce officials of the two countries held talks in Beijing on the widening trade deficit, which last year crossed USD 57 billion.
Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan also discussed the progress made under Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during his talks with Wang Shouwen, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce, the Indian Embassy here said in a press release.
Wadhawan on Monday held talks with Zhang Jiwen, Vice Minister of General Administration of China Customs (GACC) which is responsible for examining market access and quarantine issues for India’s agriculture and allied products.
The two sides held a detailed discussion on the widening trade deficit, the press release said.
The trade deficit in 2018, according to Chinese official data, climbed to USD 57.86 billion from USD 51.72 billion in 2017 in about USD 95.54 total bilateral trade.
India’s exports to China went up to USD 18.84 billion, an increase of 15.2 per cent compared to 2017.
A series of recent moves by China spoke of liberalisation of sale of foreign drugs, especially the cancer curing medicines, but no announcement was made on allowing the sale of Indian drugs in Chinese market.
The expectation of China stepping up efforts to permit market access for Indian pharmaceuticals and IT was high since last year’s informal Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In his talks, Wadhawan pressed for more actions from the Chinese side to support and promote exports of Indian products to China, the press release said.
He also pitched for more market access to Indian IT companies, pharmaceuticals and agriculture products, including major commodities like sugar, rice, milk and milk products. He noted that as a large producer of these commodities, India can emerge as a most reliable source for China, it said.
His talks also focused on the progress of the Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is a free trade area (FTA) made up of 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.