Traders and retailers across India are saddled with Chinese goods worth Rs 75,000 crore. These items, comprising electrical goods, electronics, gifts, furnishing fabric, footwear, builder hardware, and textile, were imported in late 2019. As unprecedented anti-China sentiments gripped India after the Galwan Valley clash, retailers are worried as they are finding it difficult to liquidate the existing stock.
Apprehensive retailers have even removed the ‘Made in China’ products from the display shelves. Most retailers in the country have already incurred huge losses in the first quarter of the current financial year due to the coronavirus induced nationwide lockdown.
Sources said that they are hoping to sell them off at a later date or during the festive season.
“There is a huge anti-China sentiment among customers and they are opting for goods made in India or even other countries but not China. They are refusing to buy Chinese products though the traders will eventually look to sell the remaining stock that has come from that country,” Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), told IN.
Khandelwal said that customers are still wary of visiting the shops and marketplaces, though they are gradually opening up as India starts resuming economic activities. He added that footfall has reduced to about 10 per cent of pre-coronavirus era.
CAIT, which claims to represent seven crore traders of India, has also launched an aggressive campaign—‘Indian goods-our pride’—underscoring the need to buy products made in India instead of cheap sub-standard Chinese goods.
Meanwhile India’s trade with mainland China and Hong Kong showed a drop of 7 per cent in 2019-20 to $109.76, the sharpest fall in the last seven years. In 2018-19, trade between the two countries grew by only 3.2 per cent after a huge increase of 22 per cent in the previous financial year.
Indian consumers have been turning away Chinese goods since March after the coronavirus pandemic hit India.
Tension has been rising for traders since the beginning of the year as imports thinned after many parts of China went into lockdown. “Since then, there has been a general tendency among traders to look for diversification of markets, we have been seeking advice from many exporters in Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia,” said a senior manager of a small manufacturing unit which imports raw materials from China.
Besides finished products, India has been largely dependent on China for supplies of critical raw materials such as active pharmaceutical ingredients or APIs required for production of drugs or antibiotics and components used by automobile and other white goods manufacturers..