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Decoupling India's Economy From China's Tops Agenda as Indian FM Meets US Lawmakers

CC0 / / India China flags
India China flags - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.05.2021
While China reclaimed its position as India's largest trading partner from the US in 2020, New Delhi has consistently expressed concerns over the ballooning trade deficit between the two Asian powerhouses. The push towards decoupling from China has been lent an impetus since the eruption of the Ladakh border standoff last year.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday briefed the chair of the US Congress' India Caucus Brad Sherman about New Delhi's ongoing efforts to "disentangle" from China, the US lawmaker tweeted.

​Sherman's remarks come amid an ongoing push by successive US administrations towards reducing global economic reliance on the world's second-biggest economy.

From India's point of view, it has sought to reduce reliance on Chinese imports due to a ballooning trade deficit as well as possible economic retaliation for the ongoing border standoff in the Ladakh region.

Not only did India ban dozens of Chinese apps, citing national security concerns, last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government had also revised the rules for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India.

According to New Delhi's new FDI regulation, incoming investment from any country "sharing a land border with India" will have to be approved by the government.

While the result of the governmnt's ongoing efforts targeting trade with China remains to be seen, Beijing, until last year, was India's largest trading partner.

According to the nation's Commerce Ministry, bilateral trade between the two Asian neighbours stood at $77.9 billion in 2020. China reclaimed the position from the US, who traded goods and services worth $75 billion with India in 2020.

The US, meanwhile, traded goods and services worth $585 billion with China in 2020, as per data by China's General Administration of Customs (GAC). 

America's trade with China stood at $634 billion in 2019, making it Washington's third-largest trading partner, according to the US Trade Representative (USTR).

Trade between the world's two biggest economies was affected by ex-President Donald Trump's rounds of sanctions on Chinese imports, provoked by demands for greater access for American exports in view of a trade deficit.

The US has long been urging India, a Quad ally, to reduce its economic dependence on its neighbour and the world's second-biggest economy. Despite these efforts, China emerged as India's biggest trading partner in 2020.

The Indian foreign minister, who is on a four-day visit to the US, also held discussions with House Foreign Affairs Committee head Gregory Meeks and Michael McCaul, the lead Republican on the congressional committee.

The meeting featured discussions on the Quad, an informal four-nation grouping comprised of Australia, Japan, India, and the US, and vaccine cooperation between New Delhi and Washington.

Australia, India, and Japan launched a so-called Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) last month aimed at diversifying trade options for the three economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

"The SCRI aims to create a virtuous cycle of enhancing supply chain resilience with a view to eventually attaining strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth in the region. The ministers consented that expansion of the SCRI may be considered based on consensus, if needed, in due course", a joint statement by the trade ministers of the three countries said.

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