BEIJING: India today said it would not take sides in the ongoing trade spat between US and China amid differences with Beijing over its controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Remarks by NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar came as he held the fifth Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) dialogue with his Chinese counterpart He Lifeng, the chairman of China’s top planning body the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) here yesterday.
During the talks, the BRI also came up for discussion.
“India suo motu has been the supporter of the rule-based multilateral trading order. In that sense, we don’t have to take sides either one-way or the other,” Kumar told the media when asked about India’s stand on the current trade spat between China and US.
The SED, a key platform between India and China to discuss trade and economic issues, was resumed this year after last year’s disruption amid Dokalam standoff.
The meeting took place amid growing rapprochement between the two countries after the standoff. “India has always taken independent position on trade issues,” Kumar told the Indian media.
His remarks came as the US and China announced tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s products. US President Trump is ramping up pressure on China to cut the USD 375 bilateral billion trade deficit.
“While India does not like any measures that harm the rule based international trade regime, there is no reason to take sides in this,” he said.
Kumar mentioned the US and Japanese trade war in late 1980 when Washington successfully pressured Japan to cut the trade deficit.
“That is what the US is still expecting. If you notice, both sides have announced their position (to cut tariffs) but they have not given the dates. This is posturing,” he said.