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India set to approve 45 investment deals from China as border tensions ease

Top News2021-02-24

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India is reportedly in the process of approving 45 pending investment proposals from China as their frosty ties show signs of thawing with the recent breakthrough in a nearly nine-month-long border standoff.

The proposals to be cleared in the coming weeks will likely include those from Chinese automakers Great Wall Motor and SAIC Motor Corp., Reuters reported citing government and industry sources.

India had put over 150 investment proposals from China worth more than $2 billion on hold last year at the height of border tensions. Many companies from other countries including the U.S. and Japan that routed investment through Hong Kong were also caught in the crossfire as the Indian government tightened scrutiny of proposals originating from China last April.

Government sources had revealed last week that some of these projects from "non-sensitive" sectors will be given the green light on priority with the military standoff in the border seemingly getting resolved.

Following a successful disengagement of troops from near the Western sector of their Himalayan border earlier this month, China and India affirmed that this is "a significant step forward that provided a good basis for resolution of other remaining issues."

Two government sources who have seen the list said most of the 45 proposals set for early approvals are in the manufacturing sector, which is considered non-sensitive in terms of national security, Reuters reported.

Some analysts in Beijing felt that a better investment environment between two of Asia's largest economies will have repercussions for global geopolitics. 

"India's further industrialization necessitates foreign investment, of which China is a major source. A closer economic relationship between the two neighbors will complicate Washington's anti-China Quad strategy," Xu Qinduo, a senior fellow at Pangoal Institution and host of CGTN's Dialogue Weekend, tweeted.

Others, meanwhile, expressed a word of caution saying Chinese firms will be more careful in their India plans in the backdrop of recent developments.

"Chinese investors have become sober now. There was a hype of investing in India. Now, they'll have more considerations of risks and challenges in mind before they enter the Indian market," Lu Yang, a research fellow at Tsinghua University's Institute of the Belt and Road Initiative and an associate member of the South Asia Institute at the University of Heidelberg, told CGTN Digital.

Lu contended that New Delhi may need to take additional measures to build confidence and compete with other Southeast Asian nations as a viable investment destination for Chinese investments.

Chinese automakers Great Wall, SAIC await approvals

The Indian government officials along with two industry sources privy to the process told Reuters that proposals from Great Wall and SAIC are likely to be on the first list of approved investment.

Last year, Great Wall and General Motors (GM) struck a deal valued at around $250-$300 million for the Chinese automaker to acquire the American firm's manufacturing plant in Talegaon town of Pune district in India's western Maharashtra state.

Great Wall has also announced plans to invest $1 billion in India over the next few years as part of the company's global expansion strategy. The Chinese automaker was also aiming to start selling cars in the South Asian country from this year, with plans to subsequently introduce electric vehicles in one of the world's largest emerging markets.

Great Wall maintained that its plans in India remain in place as the firm continues to seek relevant approvals and investment clearances. "Should we be granted all relevant approvals, we will push all work forward in India, abiding by the laws and rules laid down by the Indian government," Reuters quoted a company spokesman as saying.

A GM spokesman echoed the same position saying "we continue to seek all relevant approvals to support the transaction."

SAIC, which started selling cars in India in 2019 under its British brand MG Motor, has invested around $400 million of the nearly $650 million it has committed to India and would need approval to bring more investment.

(CGTN)

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