Boycott-China a Jumla? EAM Jaishankar says 'learn from neighbour' post boycott China campaign

Boycott-China movement in 2020 post the Galwan clash, Indian consumers have been turning to more economical alternatives available in the market. However, China has made a notable return as India's primary trading partner after a two-year hiatus.

Author
Shantanu Poswal
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Courtesy: ANI (File)

In a major dent in the #BoycottChina campaign, a recent report revealed China has surpassed the USA to become a leading trade partner of India. This jump in trade comes after a gap of 2 years when Chinese goods were boycotted, aimed border tension in 2020. China came up again due to a lot of reasons, like cheap rates, a wide range of products, etc. 

Now adding to it in a recent interview, the Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar highlighted the historical neglect of the manufacturing sector, citing its connection to the growing trade figures between India and China. "We need to be confident. I am clear that international politics and international relations are competitive. I have a neighbour like China. I have to learn to compete," remarked Jaishankar.

Boycott-China falls apart

In the aftermath of the Boycott-China movement in 2020 post the Galwan clash, Indian consumers have been turning to more economical alternatives available in the market. However, China has made a notable return as India's primary trading partner after a two-year hiatus.

For the year 2023-24, China reasserted its status as India's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade hitting USD 118.4 billion. This figure slightly edged past the United States, which recorded a trade volume of USD 118.3 billion. The Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) data reveals this reversal, marking a significant departure from previous years where the US held the top position.

India's exports to China saw a healthy uptick of 8.7% during this period, reaching USD 16.67 billion. This growth spanned across multiple sectors, including iron ore, cotton yarn, fabrics, handloom products, spices, fruits and vegetables, plastics, and linoleum. Conversely, imports from China also surged by 3.24%, touching USD 101.7 billion, contributing to a widening trade deficit. This deficit ballooned from USD 53.57 billion in FY2019 to USD 85.09 billion in FY2024, raising concerns about stagnant exports amidst escalating imports.


Jaishankar on Indian domestic manufacturing

The foreign minister emphasised the importance of building domestic strength, stating, "By my complaining, China is not going to stop doing things. If I do not build up my strength at home, our foreign policy will be as good as our domestic policy."

Jaishankar stressed that robust domestic policies are crucial for enhancing foreign policy capabilities. "It is a function of our domestic policy that if I can actually build up my economy, if I can build up my manufacturing, if I can create the kind of capabilities that today I am trying to do, I think you are going to find foreign policy has much more resources and much more tools in its toolkit to actually influence the world," he added.

Regarding the India-China relationship, Jaishankar acknowledged the ongoing military standoff since May 2020. He noted that while disengagement has occurred at several friction points, a comprehensive resolution to the border issue has not yet been reached.

India-China Border Tension

Relations between the two nations have remained strained apart from trade activities since the outbreak of the eastern Ladakh border dispute on May 5, 2020, stemming from a violent clash in the Pangong Tso region. The standoff in eastern Ladakh has led to a halt in bilateral relations, prompting the two sides to engage in 21 rounds of corps commander-level discussions in an attempt to address the standoff.

Now, looking into the situation of emerging trade between India & China post-2020 boycott, does EAM's recent statement leave us in a jumla?