Business Today

China: Do Barriers Work?

With China+Hong Kong being India's biggest trading partner, it hurts them the most. Particularly, when the duo together enjoys a $54.6 billion trade surplus against India
twitter-logoRajeev Dubey | Print Edition: July 26, 2020
China: Do Barriers Work?
Business Today Editor Rajeev Dubey

Repeated, unexpected strikes on Chinese economic interests in India since March may have caught the dragon by surprise, but retaliation is inevitable. In fact, the lack of any retaliatory move so far is building up more intense anticipation. While it may have come to a head in the past few months - mostly fuelled by the rise of nationalism following the Chinese incursions and fatal face-offs - India has been erecting tariff and non-tariff barriers to reduce import dependence since 2017, when it had imposed anti-dumping duties on 93 Chinese products around the time the forces of the two counries were facing off each other in Doklam.

With China+Hong Kong being India's biggest trading partner, it hurts them the most. Particularly, when the duo together enjoys a $54.6 billion trade surplus against India. Tariffs have been raised on 3,465 items in the past 36 months with 92 anti-dumping measures in place against China, while investigations are on for another 11. Among non-tariff barriers, India is setting higher quality standards for imports to eliminate inferior quality products from the market such as toys, chemicals and fertilisers, steel, air-conditioners, pressure cookers, electric cables, even plugs and sockets and aluminium foil. The move is targeted at making imports less attractive. Inarguably, Indo-Chinese trade has shrunk 7 per cent in FY20. Joe C. Mathew explains where India's measures are succeeding - and where they are failing.

Meanwhile, cracks have surfaced in the tradition-oriented, religious and always-together Hinduja family after the eldest of the four brothers, Srichand, 84, has been ill with a severe case of dementia for the past three years. His two daughters, Shanu and Vinoo, have staked claim to Switzerland-based Hinduja Bank on behalf of their father. They have asked the courts to nullify a 2014 letter which states that assets held by one brother belong to all. Their sole claim to the bank is hotly contested by the other three brothers - Gopichand, 80, Prakash, 75 and Ashok, 70. While the brothers - the second generation of the group founded by Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja more than 100 years ago - held the $12.9 billion group together for decades, the next generation is finding it hard to work together. Differences have been brewing. As recently as last year, a board battle for management control between Srichand's daughters and Prakash's son Ramkrishan on Hinduja Global Solutions resulted in both sides resigning from the board in the interest of the company.

But with tempers flying, what makes this dispute particularly volatile is the lack of a family constitution. As next-gen comes on board, most families opt for written family constitutions to avoid conflicts. Japan's Mitsui family's constitution goes as far back as 1800. Several European business families such as the Mulliez family - owner of retail chain Auchan - have had a constitution for decades. At home, the Burmans of Dabur, GMR Group, Dalmias and the Murugappa Group have family constitutions. The Singhania-family run JK Group is managed by a family parliament called the JK Organisation. But the Hindujas didn't plan it. Nevin John explores what that means for the Hinduja family dispute.

Also, don't miss this issue's cover package 'Technovation 2020', which explores how new, emerging business models in some vastly different industries have one thing in common - inexhaustible reliance on technology. Read those fascinating stories on how that's playing out in financial services, agriculture, telecom, IT, logistics, consumer products, education, consumer technology and even digital currency.

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