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Indian customers may say bye to ‘Made in China’

Indian customers may say bye to ‘Made in China’

Will Chinese goods find their way back into the Indian markets after the lockdown and other trade restrictions are lifted? While pundits are debating about the contours of the “new normal,” few are willing to hazard a guess about the possibility of change in India’s consumption pattern. Also whether there will be a reduction in dependence on Chinese goods.

Until recently, Indians have had no problems in buying Chinese goods, despite their inferior quality and the lack of guarantee or schemes allowing return or exchange.

Goods with the ‘Made in China’ stamp—from toys, kitchen items, and lights to mobile phones and other electronic items—have dominated the Indian marketplace, be it the major metros, smaller towns, or even in remotest parts of the country.

But with the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has not only claimed more than a lakh of lives globally but has also brought the economy to a standstill costing millions of jobs and livelihoods, the dominance of Chinese goods in the Indian market could well be a thing of the past. For there is considerable anger against the Asian giant over COVID-19. After all, China knew about the danger the disease posed to mankind, and yet it kept the world in the dark about its deadliness.

Besides, there has been an unprecedented rise in panic and fear among the Indian consumers over the use of imported goods, especially those coming from China. No one is keen to buy anything with a Made in China stamp, even if the price is significantly lower than products made either in India or elsewhere.

The fear psychosis exists even among traders. With imports shrinking in the wake of this deadly disease, almost all of them have been dealt with a huge financial blow. Further, they also fear that the shipments from China could possibly spread the virus further.

“At this point, no trader is willing to import finished goods from China,” Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, Confederation of India Traders (CAIT) told IN.

Khandelwal said many traders, who are keen to replace Chinese goods, have already unofficially started talks with various exporters in South Korea and Japan and other south east Asian countries. They are also looking to procure goods made in India, even if the price of the finished product is higher than those made in China.

“Products made in other parts of the world will not be as cheap but right now customers have no appetite for items imported from China,” Khandelwal said.

China is India’s second-biggest trade partner, the first being the United States.

In 2018-19 India’s inward shipment from China stood over $60 billion, accounting for 13.7 per cent of the country’s total imports.

Beside finished goods, China also supplies raw materials such as fertilizers, chemicals, iron, and steel among other things besides active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) required for production of medicines such as antibiotics and lifestyle drugs..