NEW DELHI: China has assured India of greater market access in a move that could help bridge India’s mounting bilateral trade deficit with the Asian giant.

“The Chinese vice minister assured that China would act on the concerns expressed by India regarding market access for Indian goods in the Chinese markets,” the commerce department said in a statement on Thursday after commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman met China’s vice minister for finance and commerce Wang Shouwen. Shouwen is here to attend the sixth BRICS trade ministers’ meeting.

In 2015-16, India’s exports to China were $9 billion, while imports were $ 61.7 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $52.7 billion. Sitharaman sought greater market access for Indian goods, especially for rice and pharmaceutical products, and expressed concerns at the long drawn procedures for clearances that tend to frustrate Indian companies seeking business opportunities in China.

The Chinese minister said recently his country had quickened the pace of granting clearances while importing of Indian pharmaceutical products. China also assured India ahead of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership meeting, which it is hosting, that the country’s concerns on a ‘single undertaking’ will be duly taken on board with services being an integral part of the cooperation agreement.


In a move to strengthen the BRICS economic partnership, the trade ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa called for greater cooperation in ecommerce, removal of non-tariff barriers and the need to enhance cooperation in the areas of intellectual property rights. The five-nation grouping had earlier this year formed the BRICS IPR Cooperation Mechanism.

India assumed presidency of BRICS in February this year and has organised the first BRICS Trade Fair in which the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) has also participated.“ The cooperative frameworks are non-binding and allow our countries to retain our policy space,” said Sitharaman while inaugurating the fair.

“We would urge NDB to come out with ideas and pilot projects for strengthening MSMEs in the BRICS countries,” she said. On the trade front, the minister called for increasing trade among the BRICS members as it is less than 5% of their total global trade and amounts to around $300 billion. Liberalising services sector should be accorded top priority in the BRICS, she said.