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China’s Growing Share in India’s Industrial Goods Imports: Implications and Recommendations

The increasing reliance of India on Chinese industrial goods presents significant economic and security concerns, with China’s share in New Delhi’s imports rising from 21% to 30% over the last 15 years. This situation demands a strategic reassessment of import strategies to foster diversified and resilient supply chains.

Report Highlights

Trade Deficit Concerns

  • India’s trade deficit with China has surged over the past five years, exceeding $387 billion.
  • India’s exports to China have remained stagnant at $16 billion annually, while imports from China have risen to over $101 billion in 2023-24.

Import Dependency Dynamics

  • China’s share in India’s industrial product imports has grown significantly, now accounting for 30% compared to 21% fifteen years ago.
  • China’s exports to India have grown 2.3 times faster than India’s total imports from other countries.

Sectoral Dependency

  • Key sectors witnessing a substantial rise in import dependency include electronics, telecom, machinery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, iron, steel, base metals, plastics, textiles, automobiles, medical equipment, leather, paper, glass, ships, and aircraft.

Specific Sectoral Import Trends

  • Electronics, telecom, and electrical products sector recorded the highest import value, with China contributing 38.4%.
  • Machinery imports from China constitute 39.6% of India’s total imports in the sector.
  • China’s share in India’s chemical and pharmaceutical imports stands at 29.2%.
  • Plastics and related articles imports from China account for 25.8% of India’s total imports in this sector.

Need for Strategic Action

  • Urgent focus on research and development in capital goods and machinery sectors.
  • Upgrading industries related to intermediate goods like organic chemicals, APIs, and plastics.
  • Exploring domestic production potential for products currently imported from China, particularly in categories dominated by micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

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