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June, 2013

  • As gold prices slump, the Chinese stock exchange plunges and Indian rupee falls to new lows, monetary policy analysts are revisiting the competitiveness of China – India bilateral trade. A report by India’s apex bank – the Reserve Bank of India notes that exports from China into India are gradually becoming uncompetitive against other developing nations in the region. The report entitled ‘India China Bilateral Trade Relationship’, authored by Prof S K Mohanty of Research and Information System for Developing Countries also shows the impact on Indian exports due to the fluctuation in the Chinese yuan.

    An economic research paper, this report it outlines four major sectors wherein India imports what the report considers goods that are available for cheaper in neighboring competitive nations. The four sectors mentioned include chemicals, textiles, base metals and machinery. It also mentions imports of minerals, plastics, gems & jewelleries, and automobile parts from China have also turned out to be uncompetitive. The combined share of these eight sectors exceeded 93 percent of total uncompetitive imports during 2007-09.

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  • Unsupported by a will to aggressively bid for energy projects, Indian public sector power companies are loosing out heavily to Chinese companies in securing energy assets internationally. At a time when countries are increasingly going green on gas and de-nuclearising their energy stores, the competition to acquire LNG assets internationally is heating up.

    In its latest endeavor, according to the Hindu, China National Petroleum Corporation signed an agreement with Russia’s largest private gas producer Novatek to acquire a 20 percent stake in the latter’s LNG project in Yamal Peninsular in the Arctic region of northeast Siberia, and to secure long-term LNG supplies from the plant to be built in 2018. The same day, another Chinese company, Sinopec, also signed a contract with Russia’s State-owned Rosneft for the supply of 365 million tonnes of crude over the next 25 years at a cost of US$270 billion.

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  • At a time when Chinese tourists are touted as the largest travelling nationality and ones that gross copious amounts of revenue in souvenir shopping, many nations, including the Chinese themselves are dissing the disguising habits of their travelling counterparts. A national shame not unique to China, the growing disparities between the cultured and not so well heeled, the nouveau rich and those from the rural areas is being publicly criticized by both politician and proletariat in public.

    A month ago, Chinese social networks were abuzz about a middle class kid from one of the rapidly rising provinces who had spray painted his name on an anciant Egytptian relic. Defaming a national treasure was shameful, but what also blackened his face was the public disgust at what in China is being viewed as tarnishing her international image.

    While one may argue, that all developing nations where riches rise faster than values — which is always the case, those that are culturally sound will look down upon those that are learning to tell their dessert fork from their soup spoon. Yet it remains the prerogative of the traveller to understand his host nation and follow suit. While it might be ok to do as you please in your own country, when in Rome, do as the Romans.

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  • Chinese companies in India’s financial hub of Mumbai are gradually coming together to form what will be an Association of Chinese Companies. Similar to New Delhi’s Chindia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents over 110 Chinese firms in India, the association will lobby for common rights within India, will cooperate with Indian associations and will share best practices honed from across sectors, over years. Reflecting the Indian Association in Shanghai, a group of like minded individuals and companies who gather for business and social events, in China’s financial capital, the Chinese associations are only open to membership by Chinese companies.

    In developing economies where freight is fraught and torrid trade disputes stretch on tirelessly, it becomes important for companies from one nation to club together to understand their host nation better and gain a sense of brotherhood in an alien land. While our bilateral trade might be Inchin towards the US$100 billion mark sooner than expected, there is yet so much we need to understand about each other. Our governments might shake hands in the capital and yet point the barrel of a gun on our borders. Our markets are keen to explode into each other, take advantage of our synergies and make the most of our billion plus populations, yet creating a body of commonness is key.

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