China emerging as India’s biggest trade partner

China may emerge as India’s largest trading partner this year, going by a 20% jump in trade numbers in the first eight months.

India’s northern neighbour was in the second place according to the numbers for the year-ended March 2011 — the latest full year for which trade numbers are available from the Government of India.

Last year, it was the unlikely United Arab Emirates (UAE) which emerged as India’s largest trading partner, with a total of $67 billion in trade.

Against UAE’s $67 billion, China accounted for only around $63 billion of India’s $550 billion foreign trade in the goods category.

UAE indirectly represents India’s trade with most of the Middle East as trade with rest of the GCC countries are frequently routed through the port city of Dubai. As such, China is already India’s biggest trading partner when re-exports, such as those from Dubai, are excluded.

This year, according to early trends, Sino-Indian trade in goods has already cross the $48 billion mark in the period from January to August, up around 20% compared to the same period of 2010. The trend leads to an overall projection of around $75 billion for the year 2011 and trade is expected to reach $100 billion in 2013 or sooner.

The above numbers, however, exclude the trade in services – such as tourism, software, BPO etc. In all, services trade is estimated to account for around $150 billion a year, including about $100 billion of exports from India. Roughly half of India’s services exports are estimated to be destined for the United States. Together with around $46 billion in goods trade, the US continues to be India’s largest combined trade partner.

Around 120 Chinese companies will participate in the 9th China Products Exhibition 2011 to be held from 15-17 December at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon (East), Mumbai, India in what the manufacturers are billing as the biggest platform for Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs to interact with each other,