New Delhi: India is ready to hold talks with Beijing over New Delhi’s decision to ban toy imports from China, Commerce and Industry minister Kamal Nath told reporters on Tuesday.
Last month, India banned imports of several types of toys from China for six months on grounds that they were a hazard to public health and safety. On Monday, China’s ministry of commerce urged India to exercise restraint in applying trade restrictions against Chinese products, warning that a failure to do so would affect trade ties.
“We are open to any discussions on this matter and until the government of India is satisfied we will not be able to lift this ban,” Nath said.
Separately, Nath said the government is committed to taking more stimulus measures to prevent job losses. Export lobby groups anticipate job losses of 10 million by March-end, as the global recession crimps demand for Indian merchandise.
The government has already announced two stimulus packages since December, which included a 4 percentage points cut in factory gate duties and Rs20,000 crore of extra spending to increase demand and prop up a slowing economy. The government will ensure that calibrated steps are taken to stimulate the economy and curb job losses, Nath said.
Data on Monday showed the economy is estimated to grow 7.1% in the year to March, down from 9% last year.
India’s automobile and steel industries, which had shown a downturn in November, are recovering, the minister said.
The country has successfully contained inflation, he said. Lending by Indian banks is rising and will contribute to improved liquidity, he added.
Interest rates are still high and the Reserve Bank of India needs to cut them further to free up the availability of cash and shore up the slowing economy, the minister said.
“My own view is that interest rates are very high. They need to be reduced,” Nath said. “We are operating under tight liquidity conditions and tight discipline on credit.”
(Bibhudatta Pradhan of ‘Bloomberg’ contributed to this story.)