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Opportunities seen for West Bengal as China-India trade ties grow

A rikshaw puller transports commuters through a busy road in Kolkata on April 17, 2022. (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP)

West Bengal has a unique advantage as bilateral economic cooperation continues to grow  between India and China, according to Chinese Consul-General in Kolkata Zha Liyou.

At a reception celebrating the success of 2022 West Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata, Zha called for joint efforts from West Bengal, which is adjacent to Southwest China, and other indian states to further expedite economic and trade cooperation.

Chinese Consul-General in Kolkata Zha Liyou called for joint efforts from West Bengal, which is adjacent to Southwest China, and other indian states to further expedite economic and trade cooperation

As friendship provinces and cities, the trade and economic cooperation of Yunnan and its capital Kunming with West Bengal and its capital Kolkata should achieve comprehensive and breakthrough development under the endeavor of both sides Zha said, adding that he was hoping Kolkata would become East India's hub and gateway for doing business with China.

The volume of trade between China and India surpassed $100 billion in 2021, with China remaining as the biggest trade partner of India. Last year, the India-China bilateral trade hit a record high of over $125 billion.

"This data sufficiently demonstrates that the strong demand for Sino-Indian economic cooperation is an irreversible fact and serves as the solid foundation for the development of mutually beneficial coordination," Zha said.

A Chinese delegation composed of representatives of eight companies with operations in India, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, CRRC India Pvt and Dongfang Electric International Corporation and China Construction Sausum (India) Pvt Ltd, attended a two-day major investment and trade summit in West Bengal that began on April 20.

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There are signs that economic cooperation between the two countries are stepping up following the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to New Delhi last month, experts said.

India officially approved last month 66 investment projects totaling $1.79 billion, mainly from Chinese companies.

India-China bilateral trade increased by 15.3 per cent to over $31 billion in the first quarter of this year, according to trade data released by Chinese Customs earlier this month.

From January to March this year, China's exports to India reached to $27.1 billion, according to the data.

The upward trend appeared to be continuing as bilateral trade in the first quarter of 2022 reached $31.96 billion, an year-on-year increase of 15.3 percent.

Chinese investments have taken deep roots in the Indian economy and many Indian states are seeking investments from China, Indian economists said.

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Chinese IT and tech companies like Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei have  set up plants in Greater Noida, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, according to the federal Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ “Invest India data.”  

Last month, the management of the Aerotropolis Project at Durgapur Airport in West Bengal expressed interest in receiving Chinese investments to develop the local airport-based economy.

Huge investment opportunities abound in numerous areas like manufacturing and textile industry, science and technology, bio technology, Zha said, adding that the knowledge economy “is the future and the huge pool of trained scientific manpower can be harnessed if we work together.”

The pandemic and ups and downs in China-India relations over the past years could not prevent bilateral trade from growing robustly, Zha said.

However, business insiders also point to the need of mutual understanding and a better environment. 

On Saturday, the Indian Enforcement Directorate (ED) announced it had seized over $700 million in bank accounts of of M/s Xiaomi Technology India Pvt Ltd under the Foreign Exchange Management Act in connection with its investigation into illegal remittances. lion.

A Xiaomi statement noted that the "royalty payments that Xiaomi India made were for the in-licensed technologies and IPs used in our Indian version products". 

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The company said it regards the payments as a legitimate commercial arrangement for Xiaomi India. 

"However, we are committed to working closely with government authorities to clarify any misunderstandings,” said its statement.

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.