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India adds special spice to Chinese investor's bottom line

Updated: 2014-09-23 07:58
By An Baijie (China Daily)

Exporter finds the right climate for business in Hyderabad, reports An Baijie in New Delhi.

Chinese entrepreneur Fan Chengliang expects to make his fortune in India.

Fan, 40, owns a company that exports Indian spices such as pepper and cumin to the Chinese market. In March last year, he launched his business in suburban Hyderabad, a city with more than 6 million people in southern India.

Fan is confident of his move. The climate in India helps bring out the distinctive flavor of its spices that are different from those of any other place in the world, he said.

For example, "the pepper is spicier than those planted in China, and such products are popular in China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, where people like eating spicy food", he told China Daily earlier this month.

His products are mainly sold to wholesale markets in China, though some Chinese restaurants buy spices directly from his company.

"Besides, I cannot find any other place in the world with such a young workforce and such a vast area of farmland," he said. "It's paradise for those in the agricultural business."

Fan pays his five Indian workers about 2,000-3,000 yuan ($326-488.5) each a month, which he said is "decent payment" compared with local wages.

"In China, it is impossible to employ excellent workers at such prices," he said.

Fan's company is just part of an increasing number of Chinese businesses riding on growing economic and trade ties between China and India in recent years.

Bilateral trade volume hit $65.471 billion last year, figures from the Chinese government showed. By the end of June this year, China's direct investment in India was $1.08 billion, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Bai Yuwen, a Chinese who works for a multinational company, said that India's huge population offers unimaginable potential for her business, which is mainly based on people-to-people exchanges.

India's population hit 1.21 billion in 2011, census figures showed.

"Although the Indians in general are not so rich now, they will definitely create development miracles because they have so many young people," Bai said.

Her Indian colleagues are very diligent since they cherish the job opportunities, Bai said.

Chen Zhijin, a board member of TBEA Energy (India), said that India's problematic power grid has provided numerous business opportunities for Chinese manufacturers of power-related equipment such as TBEA.

The company, established in the western Indian state of Gujarat on June 28 and owned by Tebian Electric Apparatus Stock, China's first listed enterprise involved in transformer products, has started making and selling some of its electrical transformers to Indian customers.

The Indian government has shown great interest in foreign investment and it has given the green light for the company's moves, he said.

President Xi Jinping's recent visit to India has also enhanced bilateral economic cooperation, Chen said.

Xi arrived in India on Sept 17 for a three-day visit. The country was the last stop of his four-nation tour in Central and South Asia that included Tajikistan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Bright future

China and India agreed on investment in India's railways and the adjustment of their trade imbalance during the talks between Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sept 18.

China will establish two industrial parks in western India and try to increase its investment in Indian industrial and infrastructure projects to $20 billion in the next five years, according to a document signed amid the visit.

China also plans to offer 10,000 scholarships, training opportunities for 5,000 youths and exchange and training programs for 5,000 youths, and train 5,000 Chinese-language teachers for South Asia in the next five years.

To further promote the two countries' religious exchanges, China announced the opening of a new route for Indian pilgrims to the Tibet autonomous region, for which the Indian side expressed its interest and appreciation.

Modi said on Sept 18 that he is willing to make concerted efforts with Xi to push forward bilateral ties and he is very delighted to accept Xi's invitation to visit China next year.

India will study and participate in the China-proposed initiatives of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Modi said.

Professor B. R. Deepak, a senior researcher at the Center for Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies with Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that the bilateral trade and economic ties should be strengthened further because there are lots of complementarities between the two countries.

The proposal of the "One Belt and One Road" (the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road), raised by the Chinese government, will benefit the Indian government as well as the people, he said.

The two countries should also sponsor more college students to study in each other's universities to boost mutual understanding, he said.

D. Varaprasad, chairman of the Chinese Studies Center at the School of International Studies, Jawharlal Nehru University, told Xinhua that Xi's visit to India had received an extremely warm welcome.

India and China have lots in common and both countries emphasize inclusive growth and put priority on economic development. China has its "Chinese Dream" and India also has the "Indian Dream". The two countries can realize their own dream by helping each other, he said.

Fan, the spice dealer, expected the warming China-India relationship to bring some real benefit for his business.

"The infrastructure in many places of India remains poor and I hope that China's experiences and its capital can be tapped by the Indian government to improve the roads, power grids and railways," he said.

Fan said he once spent 27 hours on a train from Hyderabad to Gujarat.

"In China, it takes at least eight hours to travel the same distance by high-speed railway," he said.

The businessman's wish of an Indian high-speed railway could come true soon - President Xi told reporters on Sept 18 that the two sides had agreed on cooperation to lift India's train speed and jointly explore ways to upgrade railway stations and develop high-speed railways in the country.

The existing Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore railway line will be among the first to have its train speed increased, and the two countries will launch training programs in heavy-haul transportation, Xi said.

Xi said that Beijing will also take active measures to import more Indian pharmaceuticals and agricultural products that are sold well in China to help balance bilateral trade.

All these moves bode well for Chinese entrepreneurs like Fan.

"I hope it will become easier for me to export Indian spices to China after the agreements made by the two governments," he said.



India adds special spice to Chinese investor's bottom line

Chinese businessman Fan Chengliang (right) works with Indian partners to buy pepper in Andhra Pradesh, India. Fan is one of the Chinese entrepreneurs exporting Indian spices such as pepper and cumin to the Chinese market.   Provided to China Daily



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