The disruptions caused by Covid pandemic and additional checks on investment helped India to reduce its widening trade deficit with China in 2020.
As per official data, India’s trade deficit with China declined by 19.39 per cent from $56.95 billion in 2019 to $45.91 billion in 2020.
The decline had largely been supported by all-time high levels of exports of goods and services by India.
While Indian imports from China dropped by 10.87 per cent and stood at $66.78 billion compared to $74.92 billion in 2019, Indian exports to China increased by 16.15 per cent from $17.896 billion to reach $20.87 billion in 2020. This is the highest level ever for Indian exports to China and the first time they have crossed $20 billion.
But the souring of bilateral relations due to prolonged border tensions ensured that India-China bilateral trade shrank. In 2020 bilateral trade decreased by 5.64 per cent Y-o-Y and stood at $87.65 billion compared to $92.89 billion in 2019.
Among the top 15 Indian exports, a steep rise was witnessed in 2020 in ores (75.35 per cent), iron and steel (336 per cent), aluminium (2,023 per cent) and copper.
Iron ore exports stood at $4 billion making India the fourth largest exporter of ores to China. Exports of iron and steel amounted to $2.53 billion, marking a Y-o-Y increase of 336.44 per cent and making India the fourth largest exporter of iron and steel to China. Exports of aluminium and its articles registered a massive increase of 2,023.12 per cent to reach $640 million and make India the fifth largest exporter in this category to China (against the 21st in 2019).
Among the key agricultural commodities, including sugar, rice, oil, etc., in 2019, total exports saw an increase of 58.99 per cent from $125.3 million in 2019 to $199.14 million in 2020. The major contributors to this increase were cane sugar (387.5 per cent), soyabean oil (3,050 per cent), rice (184 per cent) and vegetables fats and oils (415 per cent). However, the exports of mangos and fish oil declined dramatically to nil. Tea declined by 6.94 per cent and fresh grapes declined by 24.1 per cent.