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India’s Trade Deficit with Top Partners in 2023-24

India faced a trade deficit with nine out of its top ten trading partners in the fiscal year 2023-24, according to official data. Notably, China emerged as India’s largest trading partner, surpassing the United States, with bilateral commerce totaling $118.4 billion.

Trade Deficit Details

  • India experienced widening trade deficits with China, Russia, Korea, and Hong Kong compared to the previous fiscal year.
  • The trade deficit with China rose to $85 billion, with Russia to $57.2 billion, with Korea to $14.71 billion, and with Hong Kong to $12.2 billion in 2023-24.

Trade Surplus and Free Trade Agreements

  • India maintained a trade surplus of $36.74 billion with the United States, which is one of the few countries where India holds such a surplus.
  • Notably, India has free trade agreements with four of its top trading partners: Singapore, the UAE, Korea, and Indonesia (as part of the Asian bloc).

Overall Trade Deficit Trends

  • While a trade deficit isn’t inherently negative, a rising overall deficit poses challenges to the economy.
  • The deficit can lead to currency depreciation, making imports more expensive and exacerbating the trade imbalance.
  • Addressing the deficit necessitates strategies such as boosting exports, curbing unnecessary imports, fostering domestic industries, and effectively managing currency and debt levels.

Expert Insights

Ajay Srivastava, Founder of the Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI), emphasizes the importance of mitigating trade deficits to prevent economic instability. He highlights the risks associated with increased reliance on foreign supplies and the potential consequences of elevated deficits on currency depreciation, external debt, and investor confidence.

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