India’s imports from China dropped 13%, exports went up by 16% in 2020: State media

Chinese state media was quick to point out that Indian exports to China continued to rise because Beijing hasn’t politicised the border friction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
A worker gestures as a crane lifts goods for export onto a cargo vessel at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China.(Reuters file)
A worker gestures as a crane lifts goods for export onto a cargo vessel at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China.(Reuters file)
Updated on Dec 07, 2020 03:52 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis | Edited by Vinod Janardhanan

India’s exports to China increased by 16% in the first 11 months of the year despite the ongoing border military friction and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, latest Chinese customs data showed on Monday.

Conversely, India imported less from China during the same period, showing a 13% drop, the data quoted by state media showed.

Chinese state media was quick to point out that Indian exports to China continued to rise because Beijing hasn’t politicised the border friction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh --- ongoing since May -- while New Delhi has put curbs on Chinese exports.

The fall in Chinese exports to India was also a result of falling internal demand in India because of the pandemic, the tabloid Global Times said in a report on the latest bilateral trade figures on Monday.

“According to customs data released on Monday, China exported about $59 billion worth of products to India from January to November in US dollar terms, down 13%. The decline has slightly narrowed compared with a 16.2% drop in the first 10 months this year,” the article added.

“However, China’s imports from India surged by 16% during this period, showing that China has refrained from politicising economic interactions with the neighbouring country,” the article said, quoting experts.

It is also due to the rising “prejudicial attitude” from the Indian government toward China, as it mounts crackdown-like measures, including increasing tariff barriers, to restrict the inflow of made-in-China products into India, it added.

“In comparison, China continues to import more from India despite political frictions,” it said, adding: “China’s imports from India amounted to about $19 billion in value in the first 11 months, up 16%.”

According to data compiled by the Indian embassy in Beijing India was the largest export destination for Chinese organic chemicals, fertilizers, antibiotics and aluminium foil in 2019.

“India’s top exports to China included organic chemicals, iron ores, unfinished diamonds, fish and crustaceans, cotton, granite stone etc,” Indian embassy data showed.

It was in 2019 that India’s trade deficit with China reduced for the first time in over a decade.

“In 2019, India’s trade deficit with China reduced slightly by 2%, the first such decrease in deficit since 2005 and stood at $56.95 billion.”

India-China bilateral trade in the year 2019 reached US$ 92.89 billion.

In 2019, India was the 12th largest trade partner of China, following the US, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brazil and Russia.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media has cautiously welcomed the purchase of Indian rice by China, saying it was because of the cost advantage the deal offered.

Last week, China for the first time in decades started importing Indian rice largely because of an offer at discounted prices.

Indian traders contracted to export 100,000 tonnes of broken rice for December-February shipments at about $300 per tonne on a free-on-board basis, according to a Reuters report from New Delhi.

“The purchase was a purely commercial move, as the price of the Indian rice - $300 per tonne - is far cheaper than that of its domestic counterparts, and the rice will mainly serve as animal feed rather than for humans,” Jiao Shanwei, editor-in-chief of, a website specialising in grain news, told state media.

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