Monday, June 9, 2014

India-China Economic Relations in a Changed World Order

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was one of the first prominent visitors to make a trip to India after the new Indian government was sworn in, showing how much China values its economic partnership (maybe for its own self-interest) with India.
While it is true that economic cooperation between the two Asian giant markets is still hampered by unresolved disputes, there is plenty of scope for advancing economic relations; something that is rattling USA and the European Union.
It should be kept in mind that China and India have yet to agree on sovereignty over an area along the shared Himalayan border (Arunachal Pradesh), the subject of a brief war 52 years ago. Other problems include tension over how to manage over a dozen rivers that the two countries share.
Many Indian security experts also worry that China is trying to encircle the country with a string of ports and naval bases.As many news reports in the Indian media have pointed out, a growing trade imbalance with China has contributed to a current account deficit that pushed the rupee lower last year. While India’s current account deficit has narrowed recently, Indian officials are still pushing for a larger piece of the trade between the two countries. Although India and China have pledged to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015, right now it appears that there is still quite a long way to go.
News reports suggest that the foreign ministers of both countries discussed ways to increase Chinese investments in India through setting up industrial parks and infrastructure projects. They also discussed ways to address India's concern of huge trade deficit.
Until the end of 2013, the accumulated foreign direct investment from China to India had amounted to $ 0.94 billion. Hardly satisfactory.
There are several institutional mechanisms for economic and commercial engagement between both sides. India-China Joint Economic Group on Economic Relations and Trade, Science and Technology (JEG) is a ministerial-level dialogue mechanism established in 1988 during the visit of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to China. A Joint Study Group (JSG) was set up after former Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to China in June 2003 to examine the potential complementarities between the two countries in expanded trade and economic cooperation. As per its recommendation, a Joint Task Force (JTF) was set up to study the feasibility of an India-China Regional Trading Arrangement. JTF Report was completed in October 2007. There are also Joint Working Groups on Trade, Agriculture and Energy. In Dec 2010, both countries agreed to set up the India-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED). The first SED took place in Beijing on September 26, 2011.
During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December 2010, India and China agreed to set up the Strategic and Economic Dialogue mechanism. "It is a forum for both sides to discuss strategic macro-economic issues impacting both nations as a result of the changing international economic and financial landscape, to share their individual best practices and in handling challenging domestic economic issues and to identify specific fields for enhancing cooperation, learning and experience sharing."
As one news report pointed out- with the growth in bilateral trade between India and China in the last few years, many Indian companies have started setting up Chinese operations to service both their Indian and MNC clientele in China. Indian enterprises operating in China either as representative offices, Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprises or Joint Ventures with Chinese companies are into manufacturing (pharmaceuticals, refractories, laminated tubes, auto-components, wind energy etc.), IT and IT-enabled services (including IT education, software solutions, and specific software products), trading, banking and allied activities. While the Indian trading community is primarily confined to major port cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, they are also present in large numbers in places where the Chinese have set up warehouses and wholesale markets such as Yiwu.
"Most of the Indian companies have a presence in Shanghai, which is China’s financial centre; while a few Indian companies have set up offices in the capital city of Beijing. Some of the prominent Indian companies in China include Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Aurobindo Pharma, NIIT, Bharat Forge, Infosys, TCS, APTECH, Wipro, Mahindra Satyam, Dr. Reddy’s, Essel Packaging, Reliance Industries, SUNDARAM Fasteners, Mahindra & Mahindra, TATA Sons, Binani Cements, etc. In the field of banking, ten Indian banks have set up operations in China. State Bank of India (Shanghai), Bank of India (Shenzhen), Canara Bank (Shanghai) and Bank of Baroda (Guangzhou), have branch offices, while others (Punjab National Banks, UCO Bank, Allahabad Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Union Bank of India etc.) have representative offices. Apart from PSU banks, private banks such as Axis, ICICI also have representative offices in China."
According to information available with the Embassy of India in Beijing, close to 100 Chinese companies have established offices/operations in India. Many large Chinese state-owned companies in the field of machinery and infrastructure construction have won projects in India and have opened project offices in India.
"These include Sinosteel, Shougang International, Baoshan Iron & Steel Ltd, Sany Heavy Industry Ltd, Chongqing Lifan Industry Ltd, China Dongfang International, Sino Hydro Corporation etc. Many Chinese electronic, IT and hardware manufacturing companies are also have operations in India. These include Huawei Technologies, ZTE, TCL, Haier etc. A large number of Chinese companies are involved in EPC projects in the Power Sector. These include Shanghai Electric, Harbin Electric, Dongfang Electric, Shenyang Electric etc. Chinese automobile major Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation (BAIC) has recently announced plans to invest US$ 250 million in an auto plant in Pune. TBEA a Xinjiang-based transformer manufacturer has firmed up plans to invest in a manufacturing facility in Gujarat.  During the visit of Premier Wen to India, Huawei announced plans to invest in a telecom equipment manufacturing facility in Chennai."
I welcome this new development. If China and India join hands, the economic powers of the past, who still strut around with a 'big brother' attitude will get a very good humbling lesson- the future is more important!