The Tide never turns

India is now ever more dependent on Chinese imports despite seeking self-reliance

China's overall trade deficit with India has now exceeded $1 trillion.
It's just money. 
It's just money. 
Image: ALY SONG (Reuters)
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For the past few years, prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has been pushing businesses to “make in India” and lessen his country’s reliance on China-made goods.

The idea is to reduce India’s trade deficit with its neighbour. A trade deficit happens when a country’s imports exceed its exports.

Yet, after spending billions of rupees to build such self-reliance, China’s trade surplus with India has only exceeded $1 trillion, The Hindu reported yesterday (Oct. 20).

Bilateral trade between India and China

Trade ties between India and China began to grow in the early 2000s, driven by imports to India from China.

A large portion of these imports, according to the Indian government, include footwear, iron and steel, copper, nuclear reactors, animal and vegetable fats, mineral fuels, and inorganic chemicals among others.

In the past five years alone, imports from China have increased by nearly 30%, the Indian informed parliament in July (pdf).

“In 2021, annual two-way trade crossed $100 billion for the first time, reaching $125.6 billion, with India’s imports accounting for $97.5 billion, pegging the imbalance at close to $70 billion,” according to The Hindu.

Calls for Boycott of Chinese products

The increase in Chinese imports has come amid growing calls in India to boycott Chinese products.

Indian customers’ attitude towards Chinese products turned so hostile by the end of 2020 that some Chinese firms switched the “Made in China” label on their products to “Made in PRC” where PRC stands for the People’s Republic of China. This made the products’ country of origin a little less clear.

Tensions between the two nations increased when India banned a host of Chinese apps and the Modi government reportedly advised all states to avoid signing any deals with China.

None of these moves has apparently helped India. The country is now dependent on China more than it ever was.