By Gaurav Sharma
China said it has clinched a deal with India on the reduction of import duties on Indian medicines including anti-cancer drugs, which are highly expensive in the country.
Beijing, which earlier announced a cut on import duties on over 8,500 Indian items, said it will relax taxes on more goods from India and other countries as its trade war with the US heats up.
As discussed between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Wuhan summit in April, China has granted more access to Indian pharmaceutical companies.
"We believe the expansion of imports and slashing of tariffs on anti-cancer medicines will usher in great opportunities for India and other countries in the region," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
She referred to a recent popular Chinese movie about a leukemia patient, who imports and sells less expensive generic anticancer drugs from India for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients in China.
"There is a popular movie 'Dying to Survive' about zero tariff imposition on anti-cancer medicines in China," Hua added.
She was responding to a question about India's decision to cut levies on 3,142 items from the member countries of Asia Pacific Trade Agreement. China is a signatory to the accord.
"According to the outcome of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement, we agreed to slash tariffs by 33 per cent... So the slashing of tariffs by the Indian side is also part of this negotiation," Hua said.
She added that China will also impose a negotiated agreed tariff rate on relevant items in accordance with its regulations.
"We have decided to expand our imports as well as opening up. This is what China needs in order to uphold the free trade and work against protectionism. It is also in keeping up with our own pace of development and opening up," Hua said while referring to the ongoing trade war between China and the US.
The two countries slapped tariffs on each other's products to the tune of $70 billion last week.