Trade happens between India and China, figures of both countries tell a different story

Trade happens between India and China, figures of both countries tell a different story


There has been trade between China and India. In May 2022, China had refuted India’s claim that the US had overtaken Beijing as New Delhi’s largest trading partner in fiscal year 2022. The Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that bilateral goods trade with India is much higher than the figures released by India’s Commerce Ministry. Now, after two years, this discrepancy is increasing.

In the year 2022, it was revealed that the disparity between Chinese and Indian government figures on total trade between the two countries was about $15 billion. At the time, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the disparity was “the result of different statistical measurement scales.” In this regard, a senior official of the Commerce Ministry had told the media that there was no scope for “manipulation” in the Indian data. However, they work in an opaque manner on behalf of China. Meanwhile, the American government also provided figures which seemed to match India’s figures. At that time, experts had attributed the discrepancy between India and China’s data to statistical differences and possibly also the transit time of goods.

Exports or imports can cause this disparity as the end of the financial year approaches. Whatever China exports to India in the month of March will reach India in May or June. Till then it is not recorded. Therefore, these figures [भारत और चीन के बीच] Are not completely comparable. This information was given by Ajay Sahay, Director General and CEO of Federation of Indian Export Organization. This was the time when the discrepancy in trade data between the two countries increased from 17 to 21 percent.

According to data from the Indian Commerce Ministry versus China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) for the period between April 2023 and January 2024, the difference in total trade figures stands at $17.594 billion. On the other hand, Indian figures show that the total trade between the two countries during this period was 99.389 billion dollars, while Chinese figures show it to be 116.983 billion dollars. A look at the same period over the past three years shows that the discrepancy has increased by a few billion dollars. In fact, the data discrepancy was up to $19.825 billion in April-January 2022-23. Over the past three years, the Indian Commerce Ministry figures for bilateral trade with China has been around $95 billion. Chinese government data consistently shows the figure above $110 billion over the past three fiscal years.

Indian government has some concerns

The Indian government has noted the growing discrepancy with Chinese data. Last December, the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS) conducted a preliminary review analysis of variations in trade data. It added that the high variation in items such as electrical and electronic equipment “can be attributed to detailed introspection to account for such huge variation in the data”. It said in its report that “underreporting” and “unfair cross-border trade practices” could be possible reasons for the wide variation in data. The report distinguishes between country of consignment (COC) and country of origin (COO), adding that the COC terms are the official methodology adopted and disseminated in the public domain by India.

Discrepancies in only a few items

Looking at 96 commodity groups, DGCIS found “no data variation” in COO or COC terms for commodities such as live animals, cereals, meat, fish and seafood preparations, cocoa and cocoa preparations. However, electrical and electronic equipment goods show a discrepancy of up to $12.44 billion. Meanwhile, a commodity group including nuclear reactors, boilers and machinery shows a $2.4 billion gap. The report said that both these groups “may be taken up for detailed introspection”. In its methodology, the report excluded certain goods categories such as dairy products; birds’ eggs; natural honey; Food products of animal origin – a group for which the report claims China has recorded an export figure of $8,974 while India’s import figure is zero.



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