Shipping from India to China

With the exponential growth of the Chinese and Indian economies respectively, it should not
be surprising that the two countries’ trade relationship has become increasingly more important in recent years. With the large bilateral exchange of goods and services, the two countries have been moving forward at an incredible pace, creating many valuable opportunities for entrepreneurs wishing to expand their business ventures to the Chinese market. What are the ways of shipping from India to China?

Export of goods from India to China

Being one of the biggest trade partners of India, China has been exporting commodities valued at around USD 94.54 billion. However, the Indian government and numerous Indian businesses have also made sustained efforts to achieve a more balanced trade with PCR. Hence, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation, exports from India to China in 2021 grew to the value of USD 21.25 billion – the third highest, after the US and UAE.

Some of the major items exported from India to China include:

  • raw materials (iron, cotton, copper, mineral fuels, mineral oils)
  • organic chemicals
  • medicine

Shipping from India to China – means of transportation

Shipping goods between India and China is a crucial part of the countries’ economic relationship, and there are several routes available for this purpose.

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Sea freight from India to China

Sea freight is one of the most frequently chosen transport methods due to its relatively low costs, especially cost-effective when shipping larger loads. When it comes to sea freight, we can opt for LCL transport (Less than Container Load; the container is shared by several shippers) or FCL transport (Full Container Load; one shipper books the entire container).

How much does it take to ship from India to China by sea?

However, it is important to preface that sea shipping is the most time-consuming method, with transit time usually taking around 20 days, depending on the route and shipping company.

Shipping from India to China by sea – seaports

Since India has several major ports along its coastline, many of which are connected to ports
in China, there are several sea routes available for shipping goods between the two countries, including:

Mumbai to Shanghai

Mumbai Port Trust is one of the biggest ports in India, with some of the most commonly freighted goods being textiles, automotive parts, and machinery.

One of the main routes from Mumbai Port Trust leads to the Shanghai Port. The distance between the two ports is around 4,500 km, and transit time is about 15-20 days. Maersk, COSCO, and Evergreen are among the shipping lines offering direct services between Mumbai and Shanghai.

Chennai to Guangzhou

Another major port in India is the Port of Chennai, with one of the most important freight routes connecting it to the Port of Guangzhou. Some of the commodities shipped on the Chennai – Guangzhou route are textiles, chemicals, and electronic goods.

The distance between the two cities is around 3,300 km, and it takes 12-15 days to transport goods between the ports. Shipping lines transporting goods between Chennai and Guangzhou include Maersk, OOCL, and CMA CGM.

Kolkata to Ningbo

Another important sea route between India and China is the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port Trust (formerly Kolkata Port Trust), the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan route. Products commonly shipped between these two ports include iron and steel, jute products, and leather goods.

With a distance between Kolkata and Ningbo of around 3,500 km, transit time usually ranges from 20 to 25 days. Shipping lines such as Maersk, COSCO, and OOCL offer direct services between Kolkata and Ningbo.

India seaports and air ports

Air freight from India to China

Air freight is the most expensive and fastest transportation method from India to China. It is, therefore, ideal for shipping valuable, fragile, or perishable products, such as food, medicine, or luxury goods. For smaller packages, we can choose between cargo transport services provided by many airline carriers or the offer of courier companies.

How long does shipping by air from India to China take?

Depending on the route, air freight from India to China usually takes
4-7 hours, but the actual transit time can last up to a few days. The most commonly used air routes for shipping goods from India to China are:

Delhi to Shanghai

The Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and the Shanghai Pudong International Airport are two of the busiest cargo airports in the world, and both serve as major hubs for air cargo transportation in the region. The distance between Delhi and Shanghai is approx.
4,000 km. The Delhi—Shanghai route is ideal for shipping goods such as pharmaceuticals, perishable goods, and electronics.

Airlines such as Air India Cargo, China Eastern Airlines Cargo, and Cathay Pacific Cargo all offer direct services between Delhi and Shanghai.

Mumbai to Beijing

Another often-chosen air route between India and China is one connecting Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai with the Beijing Capital International Airport. The distance between Mumbai and Beijing is around 4,700 km, and some of the most often freighted goods between the two cities include textiles, chemicals, and automotive parts.

Airlines such as Air India Cargo, China Southern Airlines Cargo, and Emirates SkyCargo offer direct services between Mumbai and Beijing.

Chennai to Shenzhen

The Chennai International Airport to Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport air route
is a crucial trade route for cargo transportation between India and China. Shenzhen is a major manufacturing hub and a center for international trade, whereas Chennai is an important hub for the manufacturing and exporting of textiles, automotive parts, and electronics.

Several airlines operate cargo services between Chennai and Shenzhen, including international carriers such as Air China Cargo, China Eastern Cargo, Cathay Pacific Cargo, and Singapore Airlines Cargo.

China seaports and air ports

Land freight from India to China

Since the border regions between India and China are rugged and mountainous, making land freight challenging, the volume of goods transported through land routes is much lower than those shipped via sea and air routes.

However, in 2006, the Nathu La Pass in the Himalayas was reopened, providing a land route for bilateral trade between the two countries via rail. The route between India and China begins in New Delhi and passes through major cities such as Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai before crossing the border at Nathu La. The rail link has improved connectivity between the two countries.

How much does shipping from India to China cost?

The overall cost of transporting goods depends greatly on the freight method. Therefore, before deciding to transport by air, sea, or rail, we recommend comparing the offers of freight forwarders on Fill in the form and choose the best offer from trustworthy forwarding agents.

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