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Trade: Will India & China untangle knots?

November 23, 2006 05:15 IST

When the business delegation accompanying Chinese President Hu Jintao walks the red carpet to a meeting with Indian industry in Mumbai on Thursday, it cannot expect any help from the Indian side in untangling the issues blocking some Chinese investments in the country.

Both Confederation of Indian Industry and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry say the issue has been blown way out of proportion and would rather discuss ways to diversify the bilateral trade basket.

They point out that China treats Indian companies no better. For instance, though there are many Indian information technology companies in China, none ever receives an order from a Chinese company or the government. They survive on orders from multinationals operating in China.

"Where is the problem? The whole consumer goods area is open to them. Only because of (roadblocks in) telecom and ports, we cannot say that the entire bandwidth of Chinese investments is in question. Ninety-five per cent of it has no problem," said FICCI Secretary-General Amit Mitra.

In recent times, Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies, which is a part of the visiting delegation, has found its efforts coming a cropper when bidding to supply telecom equipment to government-controlled companies.

Reliance Industries, the country's largest private sector company, spent several weeks persuading the government to allow 1,800 engineers from Chinese Petroleum to lay a gas pipeline here. Three foreign port operators, including Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings, were banned for security reasons from tendering for big container-port projects.

However, Indian industry does not see an issue here. "We are not aware of any country-specific discrimination. Nothing has been brought to our notice. There are some Chinese companies that say they have not been awarded contracts because they are Chinese. That is contentious and does not look to be that way," said Jayant Bhuyan, CII deputy director-general.

Suveen K Sinha in Mumbai