Despite Doklam Standoff, India-China Bilateral Trade Hits Historic High in 2017

Image for representation only.

Image for representation only.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit China in June this year to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Qingdao.

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Beijing: The India-China bilateral trade has reached USD 84.44 billion last year, a historic high notwithstanding bilateral tensions over a host of issues including the Doklam standoff. A rare novelty of the bilateral trade otherwise dominated by the Chinese exports was about 40 percent increase of Indian exports to China in 2017 totalling to USD 16.34 billion, data of the Chinese General Administration of Customs accessed by PTI here showed.

The bilateral trade in 2017 rose by 18.63 percent year-on-year to reach USD 84.44 billion. It is regarded as a landmark as the volume of bilateral trade for the first time touched USD 80 billion, well above the USD 71.18 billion registered last year. The trade touched historic high despite bilateral tensions over a number of issues including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China blocking India's efforts to bring about a UN ban on Jaish-e-Muhammad leader Masood Azhar, Beijing blocking India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as the longest military standoff at Doklam lasting 73 days.

The bilateral trade stagnated around USD 70 billion for several years despite the leaders of both the countries setting USD 100 billion as the target for 2015. Though it is still about USD 20 billion short, officials on both sides expect trade and Chinese investments in India to pick up further this year as both the governments are trying to scale down tensions and step-up the normalisation process.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit China in June this year to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Qingdao. Reciprocal visits by Chinese leaders too were expected to take place this year. There were also expectations that the new Commerce Minister of China to be named later this week in government reshuffle was expected to visit India in the coming weeks for talks to improve bilateral trade.

While the bilateral trade reached a new landmark, the trade deficit too continues to remain high at USD 51.75 billion - registering a growth of 8.55 percent year-on-year in 2017. According to India's trade figures, the deficit had crossed USD 52 billion last year. India has been pressing China to open the IT and Pharmaceutical sectors for Indian firms to reduce the massive trade deficit. As per the Chinese trade data, India's exports to China increased by 39.11 percent year-on-year to USD 16.34 billion last year. India's imports from China increased by 14.59 percent to USD 68.10 billion. India has emerged as the seventh largest export destination for Chinese products, and the 24th largest exporter to China.

Significantly, diamonds along with copper, iron ore, organic chemicals and cotton yarn contributed to the increase in Indian exports to China. India's exports of diamonds grew 4.93 percent totalling to USD 2.59 billion. India was the second largest exporter of diamonds to China with a market share of 33.06 percent after South Africa.

Also, Indian exports of copper registered a significant increase of 115.78 percent to reach USD 2.15 billion. India's cotton including yarn and woven fabric exports to China showed an increase of 1.86 percent to reach USD 1.30 billion. India was the second largest exporter of cotton to China with 15.04 percent market share last year. India's exports of Zinc to China showed a sharp increase, taking it to USD 240 million.

China's exports, on the other hand, were dominated by electrical machinery and equipment registering an increase of 28.23 percent to USD 21.77 billion. India was the largest destination for China's Fertilisers exports registering 16.98 percent of its total Fertilizers worth USD 1.03 billion to India. India was also the largest export destination for Chinese Antibiotics- with exports worth USD 783 million taking place in 2017. Chinse exports were also led by organic chemicals, worth USD 6.56 billion in 2017.

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