Developing world ‘must unite’ against protectionism

By Zhang Hongpei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/15 19:58:39

Synergy possible in industrial strategies of China, India

Indian men work at the newly inaugurated air-conditioning compressor plant of Highly Electrical Appliances India Private Limited near Ahmadabad, India in 2013. File photo: IC

Big developing countries like China and India should unite to face rising global protectionism and promote world trade, experts told the Global Times on Sunday.

During a bilateral economic dialogue between China and India - the 5th India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue - held in Beijing on Saturday, officials from both sides shared common ground against global trade and investment protectionism by focusing more on further cooperation.

He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, told the dialogue that as major emerging economies, China and India can be strong forces in objecting to trade protectionism and unilateralism. They can also work together to promote multilateralism and economic globalization, according to the official website of the NDRC.

Rajiv Kumar, vice chairman of the National Institution for Transforming India, also called NITI Aayog, criticized the protectionist policies of Western countries. He offered to export soybeans and sugar to China amid the tariff spat between China and the US, Indian newspaper the Economic Times reported Saturday.

China recently announced it would impose tariffs of 25 percent on 106 items from the US, including soybeans, automobiles, chemical products and airplanes, with a value of about $50 billion.

"India's offer can be added to our list as an important alternative to expand the soybean market's diversification," Bai Ming, deputy director of the International Market Research Institute under the Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times Sunday.

"Developing countries like China and India, which might face more frustration from trade protectionism, should further strengthen their united stance by developing more business cooperation and promoting the world's trade going forward," said Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

The participants also discussed the possibility of aligning the "Make in India" initiative, which is intended to transform India into a global manufacturing hub, and the "Made in China 2025" strategy, which aims to upgrade China into a manufacturing superpower.

India is learning from China and treats China as a major target to catch up with in the manufacturing sector because China has gone through the low value-added and labor-intensive phase of industrialization and is poised to make upgrades, Zhao told the Global Times Sunday.

"Although there is some homogeneous competition between the two countries especially in attracting Western multinationals, I think it is definitely not a zero-sum game," Zhao said, adding that more industrial complementarity lies in bilateral trade and economic ties.

Bilateral trade reached a record high of $84.4 billion in 2017, up 20.3 percent from the previous year, according to a statement on the website of the Ministry of Commerce in March.

"Last year's trade figure really exceeded my expectations despite having experienced a series of events including the Doklam standoff," Zhao said. He said there are good prospects for bilateral trade in the next five years if no political conflict or security issue occurs.

During the dialogue, the two sides expressed their aim of enhancing cooperation in policy coordination, infrastructure, technology, energy and resource conservation, with more focus put on living standards in both countries.

Kumar called on China to allow more Indian films to be screened in the country and open the market wider to pharmaceuticals from India, the Economic Times report said.

India is the world's largest exporter of generic drugs with $16.4 billion of offshore sales in 2016. It accounted for 300 of the 927 generic drugs granted US approval in 2017, the Financial Times reported in March.

"India has more expertise in the generic drug sector with reasonable prices, and it has strong expectations that China will open the market, which would be quite lucrative," Zhao said.

However, opening-up takes time as it requires approvals and might hurt some Western drug companies' interests in China.

Starting May 1, China will eliminate tariffs on cancer drugs, cutting costs for drug importers, according to a statement released after a meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday.


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