The imports from China to India have increased by 7.94% over the last six years.
The year before, in 2020, India imported goods worth $58.71 billion from China, one of the leading exporters to the country.
The United States of America followed China with goods worth $26.89 billion and the United Arab Emirates with goods worth $23.96 billion.
The reason behind such high values is that importing goods to India from other countries fills the gap between domestic production and supply and consumer and demand preferences for multiple products.
However, the most common product imported includes telecommunication instruments, computer hardware, electronic components, organic chemicals and drug intermediates, heavy machinery, consumer electronics, furniture, pharma, and textiles, to name a few.
On the other hand, India’s biggest exports to China include iron ore, cotton, and other raw-material-based commodities.
Multiple industries in India, especially the medical industry, are heavily dependent on Chinese products to manufacture medical tools, instruments, and machinery.
India imports mechanical and electrical machinery in large quantities, while imports of medical supplies have soared in the past two years.
However, due to the border disputes between the two countries, their bilateral trade has decreased by 15% since 2018.
So, which products are imported from China?
1. Electronic & Telecommunication Products
The United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade found that India imported electronic equipment worth US$ 17.84 billion from China in 2020.
The country is heavily dependent on Chinese suppliers for electronic goods, which account for 32% of India’s overall imports from China.
According to the World Trade Center in Mumbai, over 90% of electronic goods are imported from China television sets and integrated circuits.
The imports of laptops and personal computers have also increased by 77%.
2. Vehicle Parts
Over 25% of India’s auto part imports, which amount to US $4.2 billion, came from China in 2019.
These imports include engines and transmission parts, as reported by the Auto Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA).
Also, rim products, hubcaps, front and rear spoilers, car lights, rearview mirrors, car sensors, and cable for car accessories are popular imports.
Other popular products on eBay include fuel tanks, saddlebags & panniers, mudguards, seats, helmets, and headlight assemblies.
3. Nuclear Machinery
Nuclear machinery imports from China to India were valued at US $12.37 billion during 2020 and $13.87 billion during 2019.
The United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade also found that such products included nuclear reactors, boilers, and other types of nuclear machinery.
India imports nuclear machinery from China with a share of 35%, followed by Germany with a share of 8.26% and the USA with a share of 6.35%.
4. Medical Tools
Nearly 11% of India’s medical devices, products, and tools are imported from China.
Most of these medical devices range from basic tools such as cotton wool, thermometers, and ECG machines to catheters.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, India imported key medical products from China to control the outbreak.
These medical products included ventilators, N95 masks, and personal protective equipment (PPE) following the rise of Covid-19 cases in the country.
GlobalData’s research reveals that the Asia-Pacific ventilator market made up 12% of the Indian ventilators market.
This figure is also expected to significantly grow over the next few years despite the severely impacted supply chain following the pandemic.
India imports the following fertilizers, such as diammonium phosphate, to boost its chrome yield.
Other fertilizers include urea, a type of plant nutrient popular amongst Indian farmers.
According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, India imported fertilizers worth US$1.67 billion during 2020.
The supply of Chinese fertilizers in India was deemed essential after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Its importance to the country’s agricultural industry is unmatched.
The trade route is also crucial for Indian exports as China is the primary importer of Indian sulphur.
6. Iron & Steel
India is reported to import articles of iron and steel worth US$ 1.23 billion from China during 2020, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.
Chinese steel imports include high quality and high-grade ferroalloy products, which Indian automobile and engineering goods manufacturers primarily use.
The JSW Group, one of India’s largest conglomerates, has net imports of $400 million from China annually.
Some of these items are critical components of engines and electronic items in India, for which the country is yet to build a domestic supply.
7. Plastic & Electronic Toys
The Chinese industry is currently benefiting from a monopoly over the Indian toy market.
India currently imports toy products worth over $600 million from China, with popular items being plastic and electronic toys.
Nearly 50% of India’s domestic toy demand is fulfilled with imports from China which stands as a world leader in exporting toys.
The low price point, variety, and availability of Chinese toys is a huge selling point for customers and manufacturers compared to toys produced domestically, creating much competition in the market for toys.
8. Dairy Products
While India does not import milk itself from China, the country does import a variety of milk and dairy products, including chocolate products, food preparation products with milk, skimmed milk powder, whole milk powder, whey, and lactose powder.
China’s milk production is growing by 20-25% due to the increasing demand from importing countries.
While India is also the world’s largest milk producer, it is also the largest consumer of milk given the country's population, which explains the increase in milk product imports from China.
The import of Chinese goods, products, and raw materials contributes to the local production of many goods in India.
If the production were to stop, it could potentially impact multiple industries and businesses while disrupting the India-China supply chain.