Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the apex body of trader’s union, has decided to boycott Chinese goods worth more than 1 lakh crore rupees- 13 billion dollars approximately- by December 2021. CAIT has already prepared a list of 3,000 items which includes toys, gifts, FMCG products, confectionery products, cloths and watches, as good indigenously manufactured alternatives of these items are available.
“In the year 2001, the import of Chinese goods into India was only $2 billion, which has now increased to $70 billion, meaning that imports from China increased by 3500 per cent in only 20 years. This clearly shows that under a well thought out strategy, China is trying to gain control over India’s retail market, which Indian businessmen and citizens will not allow to succeed in any case,” said Praveen Khandelwal. Secretary General, CAIT, a body which represents 4,000 trader bodies and more than 7 crore traders across the country.
India imported goods and services worth 65.26 billion dollars from China in FY 20 while the total trade volume stood at 81.6 billion dollars, registering trade deficit of 48.66 billion dollars. This was despite the fact Modi government increased custom on many Chinese good like steel, toys, scooters, and tricycles.
“I must admit it was an error on the part of business community, traders as also the government that we did not look at alternatives earlier which allowed China to become this big. It is high time now and corrective measures are needed,” added Khandelwal.
India has seen repeated calls for boycott of Chinese goods whenever there are border skirmishes, and in the festive seasons like Diwali. But once things are back to normal, it is business as usual, and people become dependent on Chinese goods.
When asked about whether things will go back to normal once the pandemic is over, Khandelwal responded optimistically and said, “It is not the same this time. We know each year during Diwali, the lights that are bought to decorate our homes are made in China. This year, all these lights will be made in India because we will not stock them from across the border at all,” Khandelwal said. “It will not be a Chinese Diwali anymore.”
According to Khandelwal, consumer behavior is already changing due to patriotism and fear, and this will drive the change. “Even in January, much before the lockdown, when the first news of the virus started trickling in, we saw a shift in the purchase decisions of Indian consumers. Chinese goods have an advantage of low cost but they are also low on quality. Consumers today want reliable products and are willing to pay extra for it,” Khandelwal said.
In the last few weeks, tension across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has also built up, especially in Ladakh. The traders across the country want to make their contribution to national cause by boycotting Chinese goods, and therefore, weakening the country. “They (traders) know that the profits from the products they buy here are used to pay for the Army in China or to support Pakistan which then intrude into our country. So indirectly by buying Chinese goods we are only harming ourselves. The mood is against it today and we as responsible traders need to educate ourselves and the consumers about this,” Khandelwal added.
The boycott of Chinese goods worth 13 billion dollars by December 2020, if successful, would bring down the trade deficit of 48 billion dollars significantly down. The synchronized effort of Indian government and traders would benefit the Indian manufacturers and harm Chinese economy, which is dependent on exports.