CIIE: An important step towards mutually beneficial Sino-Indian ties

By Rachana Gupta
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 1, 2018
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Aerial photo taken on Oct. 21, 2018 shows a night view of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), the main venue to hold the upcoming first China International Import Expo (CIIE), in Shanghai, east China. [Photo/Xinhua]

The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) is scheduled to be held in the global financial hub of Shanghai, from Nov. 5 to 10, jointly hosted by the Ministry of Commerce and the Shanghai municipal government. This is a highly significant step forward and preparations are currently in full swing to ensure it is a huge success. 

The plan to conduct this huge event was first announced by President Xi Jinping in his speech at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017. He pledged that China would develop mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation with countries involved in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), create free trade networks and facilitate investment, thus providing welcome impetus to regional and global economic growth.

CIIE can thus be considered as an important step by China to shift its economic focus from an export-driven to a consumer-led model. It will potentially help China to achieve balanced trade relations with its trade partners by creating substantial opportunities to increase its imports and provide greater market access to foreign firms. 

The fascination of gaining access to the lucrative Chinese market is high around the world, proved by a large number of participants signing up for the Shanghai event. 

They are lured by the opportunity to supply the country's rapidly growing middle class, whose purchases amounted to almost US$1.95 trillion in 2017, with an expected rise to US$10 trillion in the coming five years. Can any progressive business entity ignore the opportunity to obtain a slice of the pie? 

Almost 2,800 companies from more than 100 countries will participate in the event. Among them are expected to be around 100 exporters from India. These companies are mainly associated with the leather goods, auto components and pharmaceuticals sectors. There is also a good representation of exporters of processed food, marine products, value-added organic chemicals, and textiles. 

Fortunately, although Sino-Indian relations went through a difficult time during the Donglang (Doklam) stand-off in 2017, reconciliation between the two countries started with the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to New Delhi. This was followed by the 20th round of border talks for confidence-building measures between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. 

During these talks, both sides recognized the importance of stronger India-China relations, of maintaining peace on their long border and developing a comprehensive strategy to work together on resolving important issues.

Sino-Indian relations continued to improve this year, with a strong resolve on both sides not only to maintain peace along the border despite geopolitical concerns, but also to create mutually beneficial new trade agreements. At the 11th session of the India-China Joint Group on Economic Relations, Trade, Science and Technology this year, they examined different ways to improve bilateral trade, reduce barriers to investment, explore various means to reduce trade imbalances and enhance potential economic cooperation. 

Over the past decade, bilateral trade has grown from US$38.2 billion to US$84.44 billion. In spite of this increase, the overall trade figures have been somewhat stagnant in recent years and are far from achieving their full potential. 

The trade deficit of US$51.11 billion with China is a major area of concern for New Delhi. The Chinese side is paying heed to this concern, and is willing to cooperate with India to address the issue. In addition, Chinese companies have shown their willingness to invest in different projects across India, committing a total investment of around US$85 billion. 

These investments are expected to produce positive results for firms on both sides. Chinese companies can benefit from India's fast economic growth; and India benefit from improved economic activities and employment opportunities for its people.

Currently, the main Chinese items exported to India are manufactured goods such as electrical machinery and power equipment, while Indian exports comprise mainly resource-based items such as iron ore and cotton. 

Looking at the current scenario of bilateral trade between the two countries, it seems that the upcoming CIIE could provide an opportunity for both countries to create win-win bilateral ties. Additionally, India could benefit by gaining a greater Chinese market access and achieving the shared prosperity through balanced trade and a reduced deficit. 

Rachana Gupta is a China Focus columnist, an expert author of Ezine Articles and an active blogger and poetry writer.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors only, not necessarily those of

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