India-China trade crossed $125 bn in 2021

Value jumped from $92.8 bn seen in 2019; imports from northern neighbour neared $100 bn last year

January 15, 2022 10:08 pm | Updated 10:08 pm IST - HONG KONG

Widening gap:  The trade deficit reached $69.4 bn last year, rising 22% from the pre-pandemic figure in 2019.

Widening gap: The trade deficit reached $69.4 bn last year, rising 22% from the pre-pandemic figure in 2019.

India’s trade with China in 2021 crossed $125 billion, with imports from China nearing a record $100 billion, underlining continued demand for a range of Chinese goods, particularly machinery.

In the past 12 months, the value of goods imported by India from China exceeded the total bilateral trade in 2019, data from China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) released on Friday showed.

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 a recovery in demand as well as rising imports of new categories of goods such as medical supplies.

Bilateral trade reached $125.6 billion in 2021, with India’s imports from China accounting for $97.5 billion.

Imports were higher 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 earlier. The trade deficit last year reached $69.4 billion, up by 22% from the pre-pandemic figure in 2019. While a break-up of imports and exports wasn’t immediately available, 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.

The 43% year-on-year growth in bilateral trade with India was among the highest that China recorded with its 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).

‘Disruption risk remains’

GAC spokesperson Li Kuiwen said China’s medical exports had more than doubled in 2021 while laptops and home appliances were up 13% with growing global demand for “stay at home” appliances.

Despite China’s robust trading performance and the recovery in 2021, with imports and exports rising 30%, officials warned of the threat of disruptions to global supply chains as the world continues to deal with the impact of the more transmissible Omicron variant in the new year.

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