As India's import to China has increased by more than 21%, the apex public policy think tank of the Government of India, opined that New Delhi should not only focus on reducing overall trade with Beijing but it should be on reducing New Delhi's dependence on Beijing for certain critical inputs.
Speaking to the news agency PTI, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog vice chairman Suman Bery underscored that the right response is to diversify to other sources of supply for critical inputs including active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and supply chain for renewables.
Notably, China is the world's largest producer and exporter of APIs and many Indian companies depend on imports of the ingredients to produce various formulations. The critical statement from the top official came as China's exports to India climbed to $118.5 billion, a year-on-year increase of 21.7%, whereas China's imports from India dwindled to $17.48 billion, a year-on-year decline of 37.9% in 2022.
"India's focus should not be on the trade deficit with China. It should be on our dependence on China for certain critical inputs," he told the news agency. He was asked what measures India should take to reduce its rising trade deficit with China.
US and China weaponising trade interdependence
According to Bery, it is unfortunate that in the last seven years, the larger powers, both the US and China have chosen to weaponise trade interdependence. "It is unfortunate that China, which is a very competitive source of intermediate goods, is also a power with which we have some military difficulty that puts a different kind of complexion," he said.
Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 9 and the face-off resulted in "minor injuries to a few personnel from both sides.
According to recent data released by Chinese customs, the trade between India and China touched an all-time high of USD 135.98 billion in 2022, while New Delhi's trade deficit with Beijing crossed the USD 100 billion mark for the first time despite frosty bilateral relations. To reduce the trade deficit with China, Bery suggested that India should formulate a sector-by-sector strategy. He said Chinese enterprises are looking for markets and they want to hold on to the Indian market. "And to do that, they should be prevented from being monopolists, by the way," Bery emphasised.
(With inputs from PTI)
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