India on Saturday walked with China in its trade row with Washington, and offered to export soya beans, which Beijing may no longer be able to source from the U.S.
In his opening remarks at the fifth China-India Strategic Economic Dialogue, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said India was ready to step in and supply soya beans to China, which may no longer be available from the mid-western states of the U.S. “I was noticing that there were some tariffs that were issued on farmers from Iowa and Ohio, etc. Maybe India can substitute for something like soya beans and sugar if we could have access to those exports with all the due quality considerations that you might have,” Mr. Kumar said.
Earlier this month, China had announced fresh tariffs on soya bean imports from the U.S, as part of an unresolved trade spat between Beijing and Washington, on items worth over $100 billion.
In an obvious reference to the Trump administration in the U.S., the NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman slammed the “unseemly protectionist noises” emerging from the “Atlantic Basin” that were impeding global recovery. He said the “cyclical and synchronised recovery in the world economy” had been “marred and disrupted by some unseemly protectionist noises that are coming out of the Atlantic basin in North America and Europe”.
Referring to major geoeconomic shifts which China and India could sharpen, Mr. Kumar said Asia and the emerging economies could become the new drivers of global growth.
He highlighted that “the emerging economies of Asia seem to have ignored the protectionist noises and we have continued to grow at very high rates of speed with China growing at 6.8% and India growing at 7-7.2%”. India was expected to gallop with growth between 8.5% and 9% in the next five years, riding on major “structural measures” that had already been enforced.
Mr. Kumar acknowledged that India-China economic partnership was still a work in progress, but made it plain that New Delhi was committed “to work with China as an important anchor and driver of global growth”.
“I say this to emphasise that this is really the wonderful context with which India and China, the two great civilisations should intensify and improve their bilateral economic and commercial cooperation…,” he said.
Mr. Kumar proposed joint research and development in renewable energy and electrical vehicles, which are part of the futuristic Made-in-China 2025 plan. He also advocated marrying Indian software and Chinese hardware in the cutting-edge domains of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT).
Mr. Kumar stressed that solar cells, batteries and electrical devices were promising areas for joint R&D.
The senior official cited Information Technology corridors that have been established in Dalian and Guiyang as role models for further collaboration. Mentored by NASSCOM and its Chinese partners, Indian software companies hope to develop software for AI-enabled Chinese products in these parks.
Mr. Kumar also invited Chinese companies to invest in textile, leather, food processing, electronic components and pharmaceutical clusters in India. He proposed, in view of the mega-success of the film Dangal, that two more working groups — on culture and pharmaceuticals — be added to the existing list of five working groups. that have been part of the apex economic dialogue between the two countries.
In view of the expanding New Delhi-Beijing economic ties, Mr. Kumar hoped that the Chinese side would liberalise its visa regime for Indian business visitors.