India, China Trade Surges to Over USD 31 Billion in Q1 of 2022 Despite Bilateral Chill

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The India-China bilateral trade increased by 15.3 per cent to over USD 31 billion in the first quarter of this year, according to trade data released by the Chinese Customs on Wednesday, despite strained relations due to the prolonged military standoff in eastern Ladakh. During the 3-month period from January to March, China’s exports to India zoomed to USD 27.1 billion.

Last year, the India-China bilateral trade hit a record high of over USD 125 billion. The upward trend appeared to be continuing as the bilateral trade in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022 totalled to USD 31.96 billion, an increase of 15.3 per cent compared with the same period last year, state-run Global Times quoted trade data released by the General Administration of Customs (GAC). Between January to March this year, the trade deficit mounted to USD 22.23 billion as China’s exports to India reached USD 27.1 billion – over five times – while imports totalled USD 4.87 billion, the report said.

Last year, China’s exports to India went up by 46.2 per cent to USD 97.52 billion while India’s exports to China grew by 34.2 per cent to USD 28.14 billion. The trade deficit for India grew by USD 69.38 in 2021. Commenting on the India-China trade, Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Research Centre for China-South Asia Cooperation, told the newspaper that “the continuous rise in bilateral trade showed the complementarity of two major developing economies despite tension from global geopolitical changes.” Liu said that in addition to electronic devices like mobile phones, about 70 per cent of chemical and other manufactured goods used by the Indian pharmaceutical industry are imported from China.

Compared with the increase of 28.3 per cent year-on-year of India’s imports from China in the first three months, its exports to China declined 26.1 per cent year-on-year. Liu explained this saying in the first quarter of 2021, China imported large quantities of iron ore from India, which accounts for a large share of India’s exports to China. However, from the second quarter of last year China reduced imports from India, he said.

Trade continues to grow despite the two-year-long border standoff between the armies of India and China in eastern Ladakh. Overall China’s foreign trade maintained its growth trajectory in the first quarter of 2022 despite increasingly complex internal and external challenges and periodic lockdowns of several cities in the country due to the surge of COVID-19 cases.

China foreign trade registered an increase of 13 per cent year-on-year to USD 1.48 trillion. According to Chinese Customs data released on Wednesday, China’s exports to the US increased by 16.7 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter to reach USD138 billion, up from the 13.8 per cent growth registered for the first two months.

Notwithstanding the bilateral tensions, trade between China and the US soared by 28.7 per cent and stood at USD 755.6 billion in 2021, contributing 12 per cent to China’s record USD 6 trillion foreign trade for the year. The China-EU trade was also on the upswing reaching USD 205 billion in the first three months, up 10.2 per cent from last year, as per the Chinese Customs data.

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