India is preparing itself to increase trade and commercial engagement with China, especially in the services sector. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi concluded his two-day visit to India yesterday, during which he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and expressed an eagerness to forge stronger ties with India through investment in infrastructure as well as importing more from India.
Recently, India announced it would make the visa process easier for Chinese visitors by shortening tourist and business visa processing to two working days. Alongside this effort, the tourism ministry announced it would soon begin running the award-winning ‘Incredible India’ campaign on Chinese media while introducing Chinese audio recordings at popular Indian monuments and providing Chinese language training to Indian tour guides to attract more Chinese tourists.
New Delhi is also working closely with Beijing to ease market access barriers for Indian services exports in sectors such as IT, tourism and health. In the long run, India hopes this will help balance its existing bilateral trade deficit and ensure better integration of the two large Asian economies. The commerce department is in talks with its Chinese counterpart for mutual recognition of medical degrees that will allow the movement of Indian doctors to China.
India’s increased efforts and dialogue with China represent an attempt to leverage India’s strengths and balance its merchandise trade deficit, which stood at US$35 billion in 2013-2014 against just US$1.08 billion in 2001-2002.