Beijing / New Delhi
Trade between India and China climbed about 70% year-on-year to at least $ 48 billion in the first five months of 2021, the latest Chinese customs data showed on Monday.
Public data from India also showed healthy growth, although the figures differ from those published by Chinese state media. According to Indian data, trade grew 55.83% in the first five months of the year.
The reason for the discrepancy in the data is not known; the two countries denominate trade in dollars.
Calling this “spectacular growth,” Chinese state media interpreted the increase in bilateral trade as a sign of resilient trade relations between the two countries despite serious border disputes and political differences.
“Trade between China and India soared 70.1% in US dollars in the first five months of this year to reach $ 48.16 billion, according to Chinese customs data released on Monday. Chinese exports to India increased 64.1% year-on-year from January to May, while imports jumped 90.2%, ”the nationalist tabloid Global Times reported.
According to Indian data, imports from China rose 59.13% to $ 33.49 billion, while exports to China rose 46.09% to $ 10.41 billion.
The volume of trade between China and India was higher than the trade that China conducted with other trading partners during this period, according to the Global Times report.
The latest statistics were released Monday by the General Administration of Chinese Customs (GAC).
According to Chinese data, the rise in trade – or more precisely Chinese exports to India – increased sharply between April and May. The increase could be attributed to increased exports of Chinese medical goods and equipment by Indian companies to tackle the surge in Covid-19 cases in the past two months.
“On the contrary, these extraordinary growth rates show that Sino-Indian trade has largely ignored the impact of political tensions caused by border friction last year, rebounding rapidly,” the state media report said.
India-China trade in 2020 declined 9.1% to $ 77.66 billion, although China still overtook the United States to become India’s largest trading partner in 2020.
These figures are for the calendar year. India follows a fiscal year from April to March and according to government data, Indian exports to China jumped 27.53% in 2020-2021, while Chinese imports contracted 0.07%. Total trade between India and China during the year was $ 86.4 billion, with a trade balance of $ 44 billion in favor of China, a significant drop of 30.15% compared to around $ 63 billion in 2017-18.
According to the Indian Embassy in Beijing, although bilateral trade between the two countries has grown exponentially overall – despite falling last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic – India continues to face a large trade deficit.
“The growth in the trade deficit with China can be attributed to two factors: a narrow basket of commodities, mostly primary, that we export to China and barriers to market access for most of our agricultural products and sectors in which we are competitive, such as pharmaceuticals. , IT / IteS, etc. Our predominant exports have been cotton, copper and diamonds / natural stones, ”the Indian Embassy says on its website in the section“ India-China Trade and Economic Relations ”.
India’s Ministry of Commerce did not respond to an email question on this matter.
According to an Indian official who asked not to be named, the surge in trade in 2020-21 meant an increase in Indian exports to China and a sharp drop in Chinese imports. “This is a great success for Make in India and Make for the world, helped by the competitiveness of Indian industry,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Certainly, some analysts also point to the contraction of the Indian economy as the main reason for the drop in Chinese imports last year, although part of it is also due to the situation on the real line of control. .
Turning to the first five months of this year, people familiar with the developments have said on condition of anonymity that the figures likely reflect the surge in imports of medical equipment from China to deal with the second wave of coronavirus infections. People, however, added that this should not be seen as “business as usual” in the context of the long border standoff.
In a telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on April 30, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar stressed the importance that transport corridors and cargo flights remain open and rapid logistical support from the United States. China to facilitate the supply of products and raw materials related to Covid-19. materials.
The Indian side has repeatedly stated in recent months that the complete disengagement of all friction points on the Real Line of Control (LAC) and peace and quiet in the border areas alone can lead to the normalization of ties in d ‘other areas such as trade and investment.
Rezaul H Laskar in New Delhi contributed to this story