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Chinese firms eye big potential in India: Official media

Posted on June 7, 2013
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Chinese firms are eying India’s fast growing market despite their frustrating experience over slow clearances of projects and visa problems for its workers, China’s official media claimed today.

Li Jian, secretary-general of the New Delhi-based Chindia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents over 110 Chinese firms in India, said not all Chinese companies are now doing very well in India at the moment, but many of them have decided to hold on because of India’s huge growth potential.

“They have encountered a lot of problems, but most of them won’t go back home easily because they believe things will get a lot better along with India’s development,” Li told state-run China Daily which carried news feature highlighting travails faced by Chinese firms in India. The Chinese and Indian economies are highly complementary, Li said, but at the moment, the two countries’ relationship problems are hindering economic cooperation.

According to the data, Chinese firms at present were involved in about USD 66 billion worth of construction projects in India. The bilateral trade last year touched over USD 66 billion.

The trade volumes and Chinese investments in India were expected to pick up following recent visit of Premier Li Keqiang to New Delhi. 57-year-old Li visited India last month on his maiden foreign trip since becoming Premier in March.

“Although Chinese investors have complained about their sometimes frustrating experiences in India, they hope for a bright future for their investments in one of the fastest-growing markets with huge potential,” the report said.

Lu Yuanqiang, in-charge of the Indian business of Chinese constructor Shanghai Urban Construction Group Corp (SUCG) which won a contract to build part of the tunnel for a new 9.37-km subway in New Delhi, said his project is stuck over requisite permissions.

SUCG partnered with Larson & Toubro Ltd in India. As the main builder of Shanghai’s 439-km subway network, consisting of 12 lines and 288 stations, and also as one of the main contractors for subway tunnels in Singapore, SUCG is “perfectly capable” of handling the work in New Delhi, but the project has been halted for three months over issues other than technology and capability, Lu said.

The problem is a railway line that crosses the tunnel above ground. SUCG needs approval from Indian railway authorities to drill under the railway line because of concern that tunnelling might sink the railway track.

The railway authorities have withheld approval although the subway line is a government project and the tunnelling poses “absolutely no risk” to the railway, Lu said.

“Millions will be lost if the construction fails to be finished on time, but there is little that SUCG can do. Why Indian railway authorities refuse to give their approval is a mystery to SUCG,” the report said.

Lu said the problem that plagues the work included the issue relating to visas. He said it is “extremely difficult” for SUCG’s Chinese employees to get work visas in India.

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