India’s Top 10 Exports

India's Top 10 Exports


India shipped US$261 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016, up by 47.7% since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in but down by -1.3% from 2015 to 2016.

India’s top 10 exports accounted for 59.4% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, India’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $8.721 trillion as of October 2016. Therefore, exports accounted for about 3% of total Indian economic output.

From a continental perspective, 49.1% of Indian exports by value are delivered to Asian countries while 19.5% are sold to European importers. India ships another 18.1% to North American customers with 8.7% worth arriving in Africa.

Given India’s population of 1.267 billion people, its total $261 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $200 for every resident in that country.

India’s unemployment rate was 8.1% during 2016 up from 7.1% one year earlier, according to the CIA World Factbook.

India’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Indian global shipments during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from India. At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, India’s top exported products are refined petroleum oils followed by diamonds, jewelry then drugs and medicines for therapeutic or prophylactic purposes.

  1. Gems, precious metals: US$43 billion (16.5% of total exports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $27.7 billion (10.6%)
  3. Vehicles: $15 billion (5.7%)
  4. Machinery including computers: $13.6 billion (5.2%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: $13 billion (5%)
  6. Organic chemicals: $11.3 billion (4.3%)
  7. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $9 billion (3.5%)
  8. Electrical machinery, equipment: $8.2 billion (3.1%)
  9. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $7.9 billion (3%)
  10. Iron, steel: $6.4 billion (2.5%)

Vehicles were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories up 162.2% for the 7-year period starting in 2009. Performing well for India’s international sales within the vehicles category were automotive parts, cars and motorcycles.

In second place for improving export sales were pharmaceuticals which gained 160.3%.

Indian machinery including computers posted the third-fastest gain in value up 89.2%.

The only declining category among the top 10 Indian exports was electronics which fell in value by -14.6%.


The following types of Indian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Pharmaceuticals: US$11.3 billion (Up by 188.4% since 2009)
  2. Vehicles: $10.2 billion (Up by 245%)
  3. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $8.7 billion (Up by 43.8%)
  4. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $7.6 billion (Up by 48.7%)
  5. Cotton: $5.2 billion (Up by 86%)
  6. Fish: $5.1 billion (Up by 274.7%)
  7. Cereals: $5.1 billion (Up by 70.3%)
  8. Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $4.1 billion (Up by 97.9%)
  9. Meat: $4 billion (Up by 237.2%)
  10. Articles of iron or steel: $2.3 billion (Up by 77.5%)

India has highly positive net exports in the international trade of drugs and medicines. In turn, these cashflows indicate India’s strong competitive advantages under the pharmaceuticals product category.


Below are exports from India that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country India’s goods trail Indian importer spending on foreign products. Overall, India incurred a -$95.7 billion trade deficit for all products during 2016 up 6.7% from its -$89.6 billion deficit in 2009.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$61.6 billion (Up by 5% since 2009)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$28.8 billion (Up by 93.3%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$18.9 billion (Up by 14.1%)
  4. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$9.6 billion (Up by 118.9%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$6.2 billion (Up by 120.5%)
  6. Gems, precious metals: -$5.1 billion (Down by -48.6%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$4.6 billion (Up by 36.8%)
  8. Fertilizers: -$4.5 billion (Down by -24%)
  9. Inorganic chemicals: -$3.6 billion (Up by 49.8%)
  10. Organic chemicals: -$3.5 billion (Up by 130.8%)

India has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels especially crude oil, coal and petroleum gases.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate India’s competitive disadvantages in the international mineral fuels-related market, but also represent key opportunities for India to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.


Major Indian Export Companies

India placed 54 corporations on the Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings. Many of these are major Indian export companies. Below is a selection of some of the biggest Indian corporations.

  • Reliance Industries (oil, gas)
  • Tata Motors (cars, trucks)
  • Indian Oil (oil, gas)
  • Coal India (diversified metals, mining)
  • ITC (tobacco)
  • Bharat Heavy Electricals (electrical equipment)
  • Hindalco Industries (aluminum)
  • Tata Steel (iron, steel)
  • Bharat Petroleum (oil, gas)
  • Hindustan Petroleum (oil, gas)
  • Sun Pharma Industries (pharmaceuticals)
  • Steel Authority of India (iron, steel)
  • Bajaj Auto (recreational products)
  • Hero Motocorp (recreational products)
  • Grasim Industries (construction materials)
  • JSW Steel (iron, steel)

India’s capital city is New Delhi.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also India’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, India’s Top 10 Imports, India’s Top Trading Partners, Highest Value Indian Export Products and Top Indian Trade Balances

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 9, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 9, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 9, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 9, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of India. Accessed on March 9, 2017

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 4, 2016