China’s taste for Indian food can help reduce trade deficit, fight protectionism

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/26 22:53:39

Indian trade minister on Monday said the government has sought greater market access from China to Indian products like rapeseed, soybeans, rice and sugar, the Times of India reported. As trade protectionism surges in the US, reciprocal opening-up becomes even more significant for China and India, the two most populous countries in the world.

The agriculture sector has a pivotal role in some Indian states. Most observers agree that farm products can become a bright spot in India's exports to China and help narrow India's deficit with the world's second-largest economy. The question is how this can be realized.

India is one of the world's top rice exporters, but China is not among the main destinations for India's basmati rice. Thai fragrant rice has become one of the most popular consumer choices in China, which is the world's largest rice market, and there is also a lot of interest in rice from other Southeast Asian countries like Laos and Vietnam. India's basmati rice still has a chance to win market share from competing crops in Southeast Asia, but this will not be easy.

Even if China increases market access for Indian food, it will most likely face fierce competition from Southeast Asia's agricultural products. China's agricultural cooperation with India should be carefully  planned. India must recognize its strengths and make use of its advantages to increase its presence in the Chinese market.

The potential for agriculture cooperation between China and India is far from being fully realized. Chinese consumers have shown an increasing interest in tea, coffee, fruit and seafood from India. With the improvement of living standards in China, the demand for high-end food is growing, but some of these items are in short supply domestically. Agricultural trade fairs held in China will help Indian businessmen learn more about the Chinese markets.

India is known as the home of spices and boasts a long history of trading with China. As China and countries and regions along the route of the Belt and Road initiative strengthen agricultural cooperation, India still holds a unique advantage in attracting Chinese consumers with spices like curry.

Although a lot of problems need fixing, food products have the potential to reduce the trade deficit between China and India.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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