US topples China as India's largest merchandise trade partner

  • India’s trade surplus with the US declined to $16.8 billion from $21.2 billion a year ago
  • India’s exports are playing in a stronger position with its trade deficit with China dropping to $53 billion in 2018-19, down from $63 billion a year ago

New Delhi: The US overtook China to once again become India's top goods trading partner in 2018-19, official data shows. Also, India’s trade surplus with the US declined to $16.8 billion from $21.2 billion a year ago.

India’s exports are playing in a stronger position with its trade deficit with China dropping to $53 billion in 2018-19, down from $63 billion a year ago.

Data showed that India’s dependency on Chinese imports also declined to $70 billion from $76 billion a year ago, with over a fourth increase in exports to $16.7 billion in 2018-19. This comes amid sluggish demand and a slowdown in China, which is the largest producer and consumer of most commodities.

Trade relations between the US and India are now changing.

The decline in India’s trade surplus with the US comes amid a year-long trade war. US President Donald Trump has resorted to protectionism by imposing higher tariffs on imports from its trading partners such as China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, in an attempt to protect its economy and create jobs.

Earlier this month, the US withdrew duty-free benefits for Indian exports under its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). A week later India said it had decided to impose retaliatory tariffs on 28 products from the US.

The Indian government had in June 2018 proposed its intention to impose retaliatory duties on over two dozen goods, but repeatedly postponed its implementation. It all began when in March last year, the US signed an order to impose higher levy on steel and aluminium products coming in from all nations, barring a select few.

Citing products pertaining to agriculture, automobiles and motorcycles, the US has time and again said that India’s import tariffs on certain products are very high.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump are expected to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Japan next week.

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