India could use Chinese help to ease virus economic woes

By Zhou Qing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/23 22:29:29

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

India is reportedly locking down large swaths of the country. Such hard-core moves have merit and will effectively counter the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic. But India's economic revival after the pandemic should be prepared in advance. China can play an active role in this process. 

India has announced lockdowns in 75 districts. Aside from lockdowns, Indian authorities are moving to cancel foreign flights, set up quarantine facilities, manufacture medical supplies and purchase ventilators. Such measures should be given credit. 

So far India counted more than 410 confirmed cases and at least 8 deaths. Considering a large population of 1.3 billion with high population density, the Indian government enforced the anti-coronavirus lockdowns very much in time. While the coronavirus is still in its initial phase in India, those containment measures, though might sound tough at the moment, will nip the virus spread in the bud. 

Despite long-term benefits, stringent measures do inevitably come with an economic cost. The Indian economy had already shown signs of slowdown even before the pandemic hit. Indian GDP growth fell to 4.7 percent in the October-December quarter, which is at a near 7-year low, after government revised the growth of the previous quarter to 5.1 percent. To make it worse, the US has terminated India's preferential trade status last year. The decision has resulted escalated tariffs on $5.6 billion worth of Indian exports. 

Under these circumstances, the spreading coronavirus will only add insult to injury. Analysts forecast that the deepest cut for the Indian economy will be seen in the April-June quarter, further exacerbating issues for consumption and activity. 

India needs to reboot its economy and boost trade as soon as the coronavirus is controlled, so that its $5 trillion economic value target by 2024 still can be achieved. 

As the country bearing the first brunt of the coronavirus and the first one to slowly recover from the impacts, Chinese people are willing to lend a helping hand to its South Asian neighbor without hesitation in this perilous situation in terms of viral diagnosis and sharing experiences. What is more important, the two largest emerging countries in Asia that each have over 1 billion people should cooperate withstanding any potential economic recession triggered by the pandemic. 

China, which is on the way to all-round production resumption, is expected to be the pathfinder for economies worldwide. Meanwhile the country is committed to further opening up its market as new foreign investment laws come into force. India can take advantage of this opportunity to enter the Chinese market. 

Moreover, China could provide more tariff relief for India further reducing Indian trade deficits against China, as China gradually regains consumption momentum later this year.

India should consider further embracing and enhancing its ties with other countries in Asia, by joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. As the US and European economies are experiencing turmoil and causing a looming economic depression, Asian countries should become the anchor of world economy by sticking together. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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