India's exports to China stood at $7.56 billion during the period whereas the imports have jumped to $52.26 billion in April-January
Seeking a "more equitable" bilateral trade, India on Wednesday sought from China greater market for its products like drugs and pharmaceuticals, IT and IT–related services and agro-products.
"Although the trade balance continues to be in favour of China, we look forward to expanding our commerce to make it more equitable," President Pranab Mukherjee said while addressing a meeting of the India-China Business Forum in Beijing on the second day of his four-day visit to China.
"India would like to see a greater market for our products in China - particularly in sectors where we have natural complementarities – as in the areas of drugs and pharmaceuticals, IT and IT –related services and agro-products," he said in the southern Chinese industrial hub.
Trade deficit between India and China has risen to $44.7 billion during April-January period of 2015-16.
India's exports to China stood at $7.56 billion during the period whereas the imports have jumped to $52.26 billion in April-January. In 2014-15, the deficit was aggregated at $48.48 billion, according to official figures.
The president also promised a conducive environment for Chinese investors and urged them to participate in 'Make in India' and other flagship programmes of the government to boost bilateral trade.
"We will facilitate your efforts to make your investments in India profitable. We must take advantage of the opportunities that abound in the growth of both our economies," he said at the forum, attended by industrialists and businessmen of both sides.
He said China's economic achievements are a source of inspiration for India.
"We believe that stepping up our two way trade and investment flows will be of mutual benefit to both our nations. Our bilateral trade has grown steadily since the turn of this century. From $2.91 billion in the year 2000, it reached the level of $71 billion last year," he noted.
Guangdong province boasts of a $1 trillion economy with high manufacturing and other industries along with being a powerful export house of China. It has sister province relationship with Gujarat and Maharashtra.
A pilot smart city cooperation project has been announced between Shenzhen and the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City in Gujarat last year.
Referring to the links of 2nd century before the Christian era between Guangdong and Kanchipuram through a direct sea route, Mukherjee said this is an exciting time for India and China to reinforce the old linkages and join hands for new.
Noting that India has recorded a growth rate of 7.6 per cent each year for over a decade now, the President said India believes that it cannot grow in isolation.
"In an increasingly interconnected world, India would like to benefit from technology advances and best practices of different countries.
"The comprehensive reforms introduced in key areas of our economy have enhanced the ease of doing business in India. Our foreign investment regime has been liberalised through simplified procedures. And removal of restrictions on foreign investments," he said.
The President said these reforms have renewed the interest of global investors in India.
In 2014, there was a 32 per cent growth in investments and in 2015, India emerged as one of the biggest global investment destinations, he said.
Mukherjee said India would like more of China's overseas direct investment which has now crossed $100 billion mark.
He said the Indian government was setting up industrial corridors, national investment and manufacturing zones and dedicated freight corridors to stimulate investment in this sector.
Its '100 Smart Cities" initiative will transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, he said.
"India welcomes your participation in these programmes. Chinese companies with inherent strengths in infrastructure and manufacturing can look towards India as an important destination in their 'Going Global' strategy.
"On their part, Indian companies can partner with Chinese enterprises in the new domain of 'Internet of Things' which underlines the 'Made in China 2025' strategy," he said.
The President said he was happy to note that a good start has been made by Chinese businesses who are investing in infrastructure projects and industrial parks in India.
Bilateral cooperation in India's railway sector is also progressing well, he said.
A good number of premier Indian IT firms and other manufacturers are present in China, he said and noted that Indian entrepreneurs were also considering the prospects of jointly exploring opportunities in third countries.
Summing up, the President said India believed there was great potential for economic and commercial cooperation among the two countries, which faced similar opportunities on coming together.
"To realise the full potential of our economic partnership, it is important to bridge the information gap between our business communities.
"We are committed to providing a conducive environment for more investments from China. We stand ready to facilitate many more collaborations between the industry and businesses of our two countries across different sectors. India invites investors from China to be partners in India's growth story," he said.
Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters