Food deals form major part of India-China’s $100bn commerce plan

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Manmohan singh

Food deals form major part of India-China’s $100bn commerce plan
In light of India’s trade deficit with China, which since 2010 has more than doubled to over US$40bn, the country hopes that three food and pharmaceutical agreements signed with China this week will have an impact on the shortfall.

The agreements, part of a wider raft of deals targeting US$100bn in bilateral commerce, will pave the way for the export from India of buffalo meat, fish products and pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, as well as feed and feed ingredients, and converge on hygiene and quarantine requirements.

"While striving to realise the trade turnover target of US$100bn by 2015, the two countries agreed to take measures to address the issue of the trade imbalance​," said a joint statement issued after the meeting of Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese premier Li Keqiang.

"The signing of the MoUs between India and China is a good beginning to address the issues India is raising with China from time to time​," said Anand Sharma, India’s commerce and industry minister, after he met with his Chinese counterpart, Gao Hucheng.

Global major

Sharma added that the three food-related segments the agreements covered were among India’s most competitive in terms of price and quality on the global market. 

China had hitherto not allowed the import of Indian buffalo meet—a longstanding issue between the two countries. However, with the resumption of business, Sharma said he hoped India could play a part in helping China’s food security issues by ensuring only quality meat is sent to the country.

The export of buffalo meat is not allowed from India to China and this has been a long pending issue between two countries. With the resumption of trade, India hopes a big merchandise trade that will not only be helpful in reducing trade imbalance of India but also in China's food security by providing quality and hygiene meat products.

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and India's Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) were signatories to the agreement to allow such exports to China.

Registration barrier

Concerning the export of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, Sharma said complex registration processes had blocked Indian trade from expanding, but the agreement reached with Gao should speed things up somewhat.

"Market access issues have been considered and discussed, and the MoUs signed, reflect that," he said after signing.

On average, China has exported over US$4.3bn of medicinal and pharmaceutical products to India over the last five years, whereas the flow the other way stands at just US$690m.

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