BEIJING: India needs to cut all “unnecessary red tape” and ease visa restrictions to speed up the process of setting up Chinese industrial parks in the country, an official media report here said.

“The slow process of building parks exclusively for Chinese investors, which is partly attributed to the lengthy and tedious procedures that Chinese passport holders are required to endure to apply for Indian visas, might aggravate the imbalance in bilateral trade,” an article on the¬†website of state-run Global Times said.

Though setting of industrial parks was conceived by former prime minister Manmohan Singh, during his visit to China in October 2013 to reduce trade deficit, both sides have kept a close watch on industrial park initiatives that have gradually taken shape since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, it said.

“In a fresh reminder of the intent to forge closer ties through the continuation of these plans, Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee last month proposing that the two sides ‘tap the potential for practical cooperation on railways, industrial parks’,” it said.

China’s official data showed that its trade with India totaled $71.64 billion in 2015, well below the ambitious $100 billion mark the two countries had envisioned for last year.

Worryingly for India, its trade deficit with China rose to a whopping $45 billion last year, as its exports to China plunged by more than 18 per cent.

“Therefore, while the industrial park initiative decidedly promises benefits to both countries, India is actually expected to be the primary beneficiary. Chinese industrial parks have been envisioned as a way to make up for India’s weakness in the manufacturing sector, which would accordingly promote India from its current status as essentially a raw materials exporter to an exporter of finished goods,” it said.

“The presence of Chinese industrial parks would also mean that more jobs would be available for the roughly 15 million young people who join India’s workforce every year. All that said, India needs to cut all unnecessary red tape and smooth the process for Chinese industrial parks to be set in motion eventually,” it said.