China Asks India To Join Fight Against ‘Unilateralism, Protectionism’ Amid U.S. Trade Tensions
The national flags of China, left, and India sit on a desk during a signing ceremony at the India-China Business Cooperation Conference in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

China Asks India To Join Fight Against ‘Unilateralism, Protectionism’ Amid U.S. Trade Tensions

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China has said it values India's concerns on the bilateral trade imbalance and is willing to discuss new approaches to address the issue and asked New Delhi to join Beijing in its fight against "unilateralism and protectionism" amidst a bruising trade war with the U.S.

India for long has been pressing China to open its pharmaceutical market for Indian pharma exports to address the yawning trade deficit which last year according to Chinese figures, crossed $57 billion in a $95.5 billion trade.

"China highly values India's concerns on trade imbalance. But I have to point out that we have never deliberately pursued a trade surplus against India," China's new Ambassador to India Sun Weidong said.

China, for its part, Sun said, has taken measures to increase import of rice and sugar and accelerated the process of review and approvals of Indian pharmaceuticals and agricultural goods. He said latest figures show that China's imports of Indian goods grew by 15 percent and more Indian goods have found their way to the Chinese market. India's export of agricultural goods to China last year actually doubled, he said.

Also read: India’s Imports From China Decelerated 5% During April-January Period Of FY19

"According to the statistics in the first half this year, India's trade deficit against China is down by five percent. So I am convinced that with the concerted efforts the issue of trade imbalance between India and China will be gradually addressed," he said.

"China and India have various channels for dialogue to talk about issues like trade imbalance. We are willing to discuss and find new approaches to address the trade imbalances with our Indian friends," he said.

Sun also asked India to join China in the fight against unilateralism and protectionism, a reference to US President Donald Trump's policy using tariffs as a weapon to assert his America first policy.

Trump kicked off a trade war with China last year by slapping 25 percent duties on more than $250 billion of Chinese imports, demanding Beijing to reduce massive trade deficit which climbed to over $539 billion. He is also insisting on China to workout verifiable measures for the protection of intellectual property rights, technology transfer and more access to U.S. goods to Chinese markets.

Both the countries have imposed additional tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of their exports to each other.

There has been a trade friction between India and the U.S. on several issue. India wants foreign companies to store data locally and announced a review of the rules around e-commerce, moves that alarmed U.S. technology and financial giants.

Also read: Trump Presses India on Trade as U.S. Seeks Its Help on China

Trump announced that he would cancel a preferential trade status for India that had allowed $5.6 billion in Indian imports to enter the United States duty-free.

About two weeks later India retaliated, announcing tariff hikes on 28 American products including almonds, apples and lentils. "By doing so we can ensure international order will become just and rational so as to uphold the shared interests of the developing countries," he said.

Also read: India, U.S. Officials Discuss Trade Issues

Without directly referring to China's current trade war with the U.S. and India's trade frictions with America, Sun said "we are facing unprecedented challenge that is unseen in a century".

"We are both faced with the challenges from unilateralism and protectionism. So we have to resolutely defend the multilateralism and economic globalisation and stand against unilateralism and protectionism," he said.

Without directly referring to concerns in India over China's big push into South Asia with huge investments in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Sun referred to Beijing's proposal in the past for a China-India Plus approach to address the issues involving these countries.

"We also need to build the China-India Plus mechanism to better promote the regional infrastructure connectivity to ensure better synergy of policy and strategies between countries," he said.

Also read: China and India Stumble Into Monetary Leadership

Also read: Is India’s Bigger Problem China?

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