India inks protocol to export chilli meal to China

India will export chilli meal to China under a protocol signed in New Delhi on Thursday as part of a move to promote a more balanced bilateral trade which is now heavily tilted in favour of Beijing. This was the fourth protocol signed between the two countries over the past year allowing the export of farm commodities from India. The protocols for export, signed since June 2018, include those for basmati and non-basmati rice, fish meal and oil and tobacco leaves.

 Chilly meal is the eighth agricultural product in the last 16 years for which India and China have signed a trade protocol. Indian Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan and General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) Vice-Minister Li Guo, who signed the protocol at a meeting here, also discussed issues related to India’s pending request for the clearance of more farm products for the Chinese market, the Indian Commerce Ministry said in a statement here on Thursday evening.

China is India’s biggest trade partner and Indian Commerce Ministry data showed that India has imported goods worth 65.23 billion dollars from China between April 2018 and February this year while India’s exports to that country stood at 15.07 billion dollars during the same period. India also pointed out that a large number of agricultural items for exports were awaiting China’s nod, including soya bean meal, pomegranate, okra, sapota, banana, papaya, pineapple, maize and sorghum. The draft protocol for okra is ready and is expected to be finalised soon for soyabean meal, the official said.

The Indian delegation expressed disappointment over the country not being able to export raw sugar to China — despite Beijing agreeing to it — as the sugar quota release time was not suitable for Indian farmers. The fact that Beijing sourced processed sugar from Pakistan rather than from India was also brought to Li’s attention.

China, on its part, wanted India to expedite approval for the import of its apples and pears. It also wanted India to allow the import of dairy products including chocolates and candies. “Both sides appreciated each other’s concerns and agreed to resolve market access issues expeditiously in order to achieve a more balanced trade,” the statement said. India has been repeatedly urged China to allow greater market access to Indian goods in order to narrow the growing bilateral trade gap. Earlier this year, India reportedly submitted a list of 380 products which have a significant potential to improve exports to China.