India's trade deficit with China mounts to $31.42b

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India's trade deficit with its top trading partner China continued to mount, touching a whopping $ 31.42 billion as the bilateral trade declined by 1.5 per cent in 2013, registering a downward trend for the second consecutive year.

India's trade deficit increased by $ 2.5 billion compared to 2012, bringing into sharp focus the failure of Indian exports to make headway into China despite repeated promises by Beijing to address India's concerns.

Trade data from January to December 2013 released by the Chinese customs today showed that India-China bilateral trade, too, was on a declining trend for the second year.

The bilateral trade touched $ 65.47 billion, a slight dip of 1.5 per cent year-on-year. The bilateral trade declined to $ 66.7 billion 2012 from around $ 74 billion in 2011.

In the face of declining bilateral trade - which was attributed to a host of reasons, including depreciation of Indian rupee, officials here are sceptical about the $ 100 billion target to be achieved by 2015, fixed by the top leadership of both the countries.

As per the preliminary data released by the customs, Chinese exports to India have climbed marginally to settle at $ 48.44 billion for the entire year, where as Indian exports to China dipped by a little under 10 per cent to $ 17 billion, causing a trade deficit of $ 31.42 billion to India.

The continued decline in trade will be a major challenge for the new Indian Ambassador Ashok K Kantha as flourishing trade was regarded as a major factor of stability in Sino-Indian ties.

Kantha took charge this month, succeeding S Jaishankar who was transferred to Washington as Indian envoy to the US.

The mounting trade deficit was the main topic of conversation during the visits of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit here last year during which China promised to address India's concerns by opening up to Indian IT and pharmaceuticals.

China also proposed to step up its investments in India by establishing Chinese investment parks.

Chinese officials have visited several Indian states in this regard and the final decision was expected to be announced after the general elections in India this year.

Indian exports to China were expected to improve following the MOUs signed during Li's visit to facilitate India's exports of oilmeal, pharmaceuticals, marine products and buffalo meat.

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