State Bank of India set to open second branch in China
Beijing: State Bank of India’s second branch in China is set to open at the port city of Tianjin, close to Beijing. The new branch, with capital of about 300 million yuan (about $50 million), would open towards the end of February, Dinesh Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of SBI, Shanghai branch, told the media here today.
SBI, which opened its first branch in Shanghai in 2006, has a representative office in Tianjin, a well developed port city located about 140 km from Beijing, from where the bulk of trade from China to the rest of the world is handled. A host of Indian banks are present in different parts of the country and most of them have benefited from the burgeoning India-China trade.
SBI handled about $2 billion worth of trade finance, which included letters of credit for Indian and Chinese business firms, Sharma said. The Indian banks based in China mainly banked in trade finance as bilateral trade has increased in recent years.
India-China trade touched a high of $74.9 billion in 2011, but declined to $66.47 billion last year registering a 10 per cent drop. India’s deficit also mounted to $28.87 billion. Sharma says Indian banks are not much affected by the Indian deficit trade as they looked to take advantage of the overall trade between the two countries.
A host of Indian banks functioned in China in contrast to China’s lone branch of the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) based in Mumbai. The Bank of India has a branch in Shenzhen city with a representative office in Beijing. Its officials say it is looking forward to upgrading its representative office in the capital.
UCO Bank too has a representative office in Beijing. Besides SBI, Canara Bank has a branch in Shanghai and ICICI Bank is in the process of setting up its branch in China’s business hub. Allahabad Bank has a representative office there. Initially, foreign banks are permitted to open representative offices in China and their upgradation into full-fledged branches is considered after that. Officials of various Indian banks say that their business is good considering the increase in bilateral trade volumes.