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India’s trade with China booms - despite the political rift and military standoff

Trade with China is booming, despite all the brouhaha about Chinese "aggression" and "expansionism" and the nearly two-year-old military standoff in the Ladakh Himalayans where both countries have amassed nearly 50,000 soldiers facing each other a snowy frontier

Jan 15, 2022
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India’s trade with China booms

Trade with China is booming, despite all the brouhaha about Chinese "aggression" and "expansionism" and the nearly two-year-old military standoff in the Ladakh Himalayans where both countries have amassed nearly 50,000 soldiers facing each other a snowy frontier. According to The Hindu, India’s trade with China in 2021 crossed $125 billion with imports from China nearing a record $100 billion on the back of continuing Indian imports, underlining continued demand for a range of Chinese goods, particularly machinery.

In the past 12 months, data from China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) released on January 14 showed, the value of goods imported by India from China exceeded the total bilateral trade in 2019. Trade fell from $92.8 billion in 2019 to $87.6 billion in 2020 on account of the pandemic.

Trade has boomed in 2021 thanks to rising imports of new categories of goods such as medical supplies, The Hindu said. Bilateral trade reached $125.6 billion in 2021, with India’s imports from China accounting for $97.5 billion.

Imports were up by 30% from 2019 while India’s exports to China, amounting to $28.1 billion, were up by as much as 56% from two years ago. The trade deficit last year reached $69.4 billion, up by 22% from the pre-pandemic figure in 2019.

According to GAC figures, India’s biggest exports to China in recent years were iron ore, cotton and other raw material-based commodities, which have seen a recovery in demand in China last year, while India has imported large quantities of electrical and mechanical machinery, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), auto components and, over the past two years, a range of medical supplies from oxygen concentrators to PPEs.

Ironically, despite all the negative media coverage and public perceptions surrounding China, the 43% year-on-year growth in bilateral trade with India was among the highest among China’s major trading partners. Trade figures with China’s top three trading partners showed growth of 28.1% with ASEAN (to $878.2 billion), 27.5% with the European Union (to $828.1 billion), and 28.7% with the United States, to $755.6 billion, the figures showed 

In fact, there was no breakthrough reported after the 14th round of disengagement talks between the two militaries, though the border situation was reported by the Chinese foreign ministry to be "stable". [Read more at: https://www.southasiamonitor.org/china-watch/no-breakthrough-even-after-14-rounds-india-china-border-talks(SAM)].

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