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China’s imports from India fall 36.9% in Jan-May, but room for growth ‘unlimited’

China’s imports from India plunged in the first five months of this year by the highest rate of decline among China’s major trading partners, while China’s exports to India surged over 28 percent year-on-year, official data showed on Thursday.

Despite the fall in China’s imports from India, Chinese experts noted that there is still “unlimited room” for the two countries to expand trade cooperation given their complementary economies.

In the first five months, China's total two-way trade with India reached $54 billion, an increase of 12.1 percent compared with the same period last year, according to statistics released by the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

From January to May, China's exports to India jumped 28.9 percent year-on-year to $46.2 billion, about six times what it imports from India, which dropped by 36.9 percent year-on-year to $7.77 billion, GAC’s data showed.

“In the first quarter of 2021, China imported large quantities of iron ore from India, which accounts for a large share of India's exports to China, from the second quarter, China’s imports dropped,” Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

In May, China’s imports from India rose to $1.53 billion compared with $1.36 billion in April.

Liu said that the rise was mainly due to the wane of COVID-19 flare-ups last month, which may release more demand, especially in major cities like Shanghai.

Also, compared with the limited range of imported products from India, China has exported various products to India, including daily necessities, intermediate products to be reprocessed or transferred, as well as electronic devices like mobile phones, Liu noted.

Experts noted that despite certain differences, China and India still share “unlimited” room for cooperation, as the two economies are highly complementary.

Liu predicted that in the second quarter this year, India’s imports from China have potential to grow, as the country is accelerating its economic recovery from the pandemic.

In March, Chinese State Counselor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a visit to India, and both sides agreed to hold talks on deepening economic and trade cooperation and expressed hope that the two countries can move in the same direction to expand mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.


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