Contrary to popular belief, as per recent data by the Indian commerce ministry the two-way trade between China and India last year stood at $77.7 billion, making Beijing New Delhi’s largest trading partner during the period.
According to the data, India continued to rely heavily on imports of heavy machinery and telecom equipment from China during the period.
Overall Chinese exports to India totalled around $58.7 billion, which was more than New Delhi’s purchases from the US and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) combined. The UAE is India’s third-largest trading partner.
The new statistics also point out that bilateral trade between India and the US, which was New Delhi’s largest trading partner in 2019-20, stood at $75.9 billion.
The two-way trade between the US and India in 2019-20 was nearly $88.75 billion, compared to the corresponding figure of approximately $87.96 billion between India and the US during the same period the previous year.
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India has banned over 200 Chinese apps, including messaging app WeChat and short video app TikTok, since the beginning of the faceoff between the military forces of the two countries in the eastern Ladakh region.
Prior to that, in April last year, New Delhi also amended its foreign direct investment (FDI) rules to make it mandatory for money inflows from China to get prior approval from the Indian government.
Beijing dubbed New Delhi’s new FDI policy as “discriminatory” at the time, reasoning that it was against the principals of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Meanwhile, China has taken over Indian markets dominating industries like mobile phones and are about to grab the lion’s share of the television and home appliances industries. China is now emerging as one of the biggest investors in Indian start-ups taking over Indian markets with a storm.
The most recent trade data comes at a time when China and India are involved in a troop disengagement process from the friction points in the eastern Ladakh region, as both the powers negotiate an end to the months-long border standoff on 10 February.
While the armies from both the countries have agreed to pull back to their respective pre-April 2020 positions from Pangong Tso Lake, one of the points of contention, troop withdrawal from Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra (the other areas where the two armies are involved in a face-off) is yet to be negotiated.
There is a serious concern among Indian security experts that after almost 50 years the Indian government is now conceding to the 1959 Chinese border offer that was rejected by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru calling it a deceptive tactic to annex foreign territory.