Bridging trade deficit: Taking Chandni Chowk to China

Narrowing India’s $37.85 billion trade deficit with China, a contentious issue between the two Asian giants, will take some out-of-the-box thinking, and greater consumer orientation. Here are some pointers on how it can be done.
A few weeks ago, as my wife Sumona was having a manicure at a nail salon in Shanghai, a thirty-something Chinese lady sitting in the next chair excitedly told her that she was simply in love with a handsome Indian star. Naturally, Sumona assumed it would be one of the Khans. “He has big eyes, a lovely smile, and is quite plump. So different from the skinny Chinese men! Look, I carry his picture on my phone,” she said. Pulling out a crystal-encrusted I-Phone 6, she showed the photo of a smiling Ram Kapoor.
Would you have ever imagined that Bade Achche Lagte Hain, a popular TV drama in India, could be so popular in China? Or that one of the most popular dance performances at last year’s Chinese New Year office parties was Jai Ho? Or that thousands of Chinese youth are enraptured by 3 Idiots (San Geshagua in Mandarin) because it reflects exactly the same kind of pressure that they experience?
The continued growth of both the Chinese market and consumer power offers Indian businesses myriad opportunities. Narrowing the trade gap is a political and economic commitment on both sides of the Himalaya. It’s up to Indian business to make the most of China’s booming consumer markets.

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