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Border tension aside, China India’s top trade partner in 2020

It also came at a time that India’s trade with the US, its top trading partner in 2019, took a hit during the pandemic.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
February 24, 2021 3:13:03 am
Hit in US trade, 319% jump in shipments of iron and steel to Beijing contribute.

China topped India’s list of trading partners in 2020 despite high tension between the countries, showed provisional data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Its position at the top is not just a result of India’s continued dependence on its electrical and nuclear machinery, but a spurt in shipments of products like iron and steel as well.

It also came at a time that India’s trade with the US, its top trading partner in 2019, took a hit during the pandemic.

Despite a drop from the $85.47 billion traded between India and China from January to December 2019, total trade between the countries stood at $77.67 billion during the same period in 2020 — a year that saw a deadly clash between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan Valley. The skirmish sparked various measures by the government to cut Chinese presence in the country, including a ban of popular apps, termination of major infrastructural contracts and the approval of production-linked incentive schemes to reduce dependence on critical goods from the neighbour.

Electrical machinery and equipment, at $17.82 billion, and nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances, at $12.35 billion, continued to top the goods imported from China in 2020 — a sign of continued dependence as India works towards self-reliance in critical sectors. At the same time, imports of these goods dropped by nearly 11 percent in the calendar year.

Meanwhile, Indian iron and steel saw a 319.14 percent jump in exports to China, with shipments touching $2.38 billion during January to December 2020. Iron and steel exports to China in 2019 were around $567 million.

Meanwhile, total trade with the US in 2020, at $75.95 billion, lagged behind China.

India exported goods worth $49.06 billion to the US between January and December 2020, down from $53.82 billion the year before. However, imports from the country took a bigger hit, dropping to $26.89 billion in 2020 from around $36.28 billion in 2019.

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