China warms to India amid trade tensions, strong potential for cooperation in manufacturing and IT

By Xie Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/25 21:13:39

Strong potential for cooperation in manufacturing and IT

A container ship that links Shanghai and Chennai berths at Ningbo-Zhoushan Port in East China's Zhejiang Province. File photo: VCG

China is increasing efforts to smooth trade relations with India at a time when its trade ties with the US are fraught.

On Saturday, China and India signed 101 trade agreements valued at about $2.37 billion during the visit of a trade group to India organized by China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), according to a statement from the MOFCOM on Saturday.

The agreements involve sectors including black tea, castor oil, peppermint oil and coco fiber, which are all areas where India has an advantage, the statement said.

The group had more than 30 representatives from Chinese companies in industries including textiles, agriculture, commercial trading and pharmaceuticals.

The MOFCOM didn't respond to an interview request as of press time on Sunday.

Bilateral trade surged 26.1 percent on a yearly basis in the first two months of 2018, customs data showed on March 8. In 2017, bilateral trade rose by 20.3 percent year-on-year.

Zhao Jianglin, a research fellow at the National Institute for Global Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that signing the trade agreements shows an improvement in political relationship between the two countries.

Chinese companies are also showing increasing interest in investing in the opportunity-rich Indian market. On Friday, about 350 companies attended a seminar in Shenzhen of South China's Guangdong Province to explore opportunities to invest in India's electronics sector, according to a report by the Financial Express.

Wang Chao, a veteran of Sino-India business cooperation, told the Global Times on Sunday that in the internet sector, an area where both countries have ample experience, investments from Chinese companies in India have "moved up" in recent years regardless of last year's political friction.

A Chinese man who has worked in engineering management in India since 2015, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Global Times on Sunday that Chinese companies that have already invested in India are mostly maintaining or increasing their business there.

"As to India's business policy toward China, there's not an evident sign of either improvement or decline," he said, adding that Chinese companies that plan to explore the Indian market will consider political uncertainty.

"Those who have a bigger appetite for risks will still enter (the Indian market)," he said.

China is showing increasing friendliness to India at a time when its trade and investment relations with the US are deteriorating. US President Donald Trump has signed a memorandum to impose $60 billion in tariffs on imports from China, as well as restrictions on Chinese investment in the US.

Gu Xiaosong, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at South China's Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, said that China wants to improve trade relations with all Asian countries including India to offset any potential negative influence from US actions.

"Besides, the potential for economic and trade cooperation between China and India is great, with India's rapid development in manufacturing and other areas," Gu told the Global Times on Sunday.

The aforementioned engineering specialist said that it's too early to conclude that Trump's tariff action is not set yet, because there might be negotiations and leeway following the Trump administration's moves against China.

Bai Ming, deputy director of the International Market Research Institute under the MOFCOM, told the Global Times on Sunday that China has always wanted to maintain healthy economic and trade relations with countries like India.

The Indian government in recent years has also complained the country's trade gap with China.

"Concerning the two countries' industrial structure, the trade gap is not that easy to solve, but we can alleviate the situation," Bai said.

Newspaper headline: China warms to India amid trade tensions


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