Strategically located near highly populated trading partners including China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Republic of India shipped US$322.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -0.4% reduction since 2015 but a 22.3% gain from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Indian rupee has depreciated by -9.8% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -3% from 2018 to 2019. India’s weaker local currency makes Indian exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 54.8% of products exported from India were bought by importers in: United States (16.8% of the global total), United Arab Emirates (9.2%), China (5.3%), Hong Kong (3.5%), Singapore (3.3%), United Kingdom (2.7%), Netherlands (2.7%), Germany (also 2.7%), Bangladesh (2.6%), Nepal (2.2%), Belgium (2%) and Malaysia (1.9%).
From a continental perspective, 47.8% of India’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 19.3% were sold to European importers. India shipped another 18.8% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (9.1%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (3%), and Oceania led by Australia (1.1%).
Given India’s population of 1.352 billion people, its total $322.8 billion in 2019 exported products translates to roughly $240 for every resident in the vast South Asian country.
India’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Indian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from India.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$44.1 billion (13.7% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $36.7 billion (11.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $21.2 billion (6.6%)
- Organic chemicals: $18.3 billion (5.7%)
- Vehicles: $17.2 billion (5.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $16.1 billion (5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $14.7 billion (4.5%)
- Iron, steel: $9.7 billion (3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $8.6 billion (2.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $7.9 billion (2.5%)
India’s top 10 exports accounted for roughly three-fifths (60.2%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Electrical machinery and equipment represents the fastest growing among the top 10 export categories, up 23.6% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving Indian export sales were pharmaceuticals which gained 12.5%. India’s shipments of unknitted and non-crocheted clothing or accessories recorded the third-fastest gain in value due to a 6.4% increase year over year.
There were three declining top categories for Indian exports: gems and precious metals via its -8.7% drop mainly due to India’s plummeting international sales of diamonds, coins and precious metal scrap; vehicles (down -6%); then iron and steel (down -3.1%).
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of India’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.
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.
- Pharmaceuticals: US$13.8 billion (Up by 12.7% since 2018)
- Vehicles: $11.8 billion (Down by -2.1%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $7.9 billion (Up by 6.4%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $7.4 billion (Up by 4%)
- Cereals: $7.2 billion (Down by -5.6%)
- Fish: $6 billion (Down by -4.3%)
- Cotton: $5 billion (Down by -31.5%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $4.6 billion (Down by -2.9%)
- Meat: $3.5 billion (Down by -7.4%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $2.5 billion (Up by 7.2%)
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.
Overall India incurred a -$157.2 billion trade deficit for all products during 2019, shrinking -15.1% from -$185.3 billion in red ink one year earlier.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$109.4 billion (Down by -9.3% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$35.7 billion (Down by -12.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$23.4 billion (Down by -6.3%)
- Machinery including computers: -$22.9 billion (Up by 0.1%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$8.5 billion (Down by -6.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$7.2 billion (Down by -1.9%)
- Fertilizers: -$7.2 billion (Up by 24.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$6.1 billion (Down by -2.4%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$5.1 billion (Down by -2.1%)
- Copper: -$4.3 billion (Up by 20.6%)
India has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels, particularly for crude oil, coal and petroleum gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate India’s competitive disadvantages in the international mineral fuels-related market, but also represent key opportunities for India to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations for pertinent goods.
Major Indian Export Companies
India places over 50 corporations on the Forbes Global 2000 rankings. Many of these are major Indian export companies. Below is a selection of some of the biggest Indian corporations.
- Reliance Industries (oil, gas)
- Tata Motors (cars, trucks)
- Indian Oil (oil, gas)
- Coal India (diversified metals, mining)
- ITC (tobacco)
- Bharat Heavy Electricals (electrical equipment)
- Hindalco Industries (aluminum)
- Tata Steel (iron, steel)
- Bharat Petroleum (oil, gas)
- Hindustan Petroleum (oil, gas)
- Sun Pharma Industries (pharmaceuticals)
- Steel Authority of India (iron, steel)
- Bajaj Auto (recreational products)
- Hero Motocorp (recreational products)
- Grasim Industries (construction materials)
- JSW Steel (iron, steel)
Searchable List of India’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from India during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||Indian Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|1||Processed petroleum oils||$42,212,861,000||-10.5%|
|3||Medication mixes in dosage||$14,529,723,000||+13.4%|
|8||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$4,461,050,000||-0.7%|
|9||Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks||$4,279,340,000||+108.9%|
|10||Phone system devices including smartphones:||$4,117,136,000||+101.1%|
|16||Yarn (85%+ cotton)||$2,924,647,000||-24%|
|17||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$2,772,132,000||+17.6%|
|18||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$2,719,871,000||+16.8%|
|19||Synthetic organic coloring||$2,698,234,000||+8.9%|
|20||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$2,660,100,000||+8.2%|
|21||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$2,435,585,000||+38%|
|22||Iron ores, concentrates||$2,203,504,000||+75.4%|
|26||Rubber tires (new)||$1,853,720,000||+1.6%|
|27||Electrical converters/power units||$1,851,069,000||+28.6%|
|29||Sugar (cane or beet)||$1,762,460,000||+89.4%|
|31||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$1,518,492,000||+13.4%|
|32||Cases, handbags, wallets||$1,504,738,000||+4%|
|34||Unglazed ceramic flags, tiles, cubes||$1,274,535,000||+25.2%|
|35||Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)||$1,261,271,000||-42.8%|
|36||Other organic compounds||$1,252,069,000||+10.9%|
|38||Tracksuits, swimwear (not knit or crochet)||$1,212,056,000||+3%|
|39||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$1,209,174,000||+5.1%|
|41||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$1,187,523,000||+15%|
|42||Women's shirts (not knit or crochet)||$1,173,552,000||-6.1%|
|43||Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)||$1,154,725,000||-4.8%|
|44||Synthetic filament yarn||$1,134,504,000||-10.5%|
|45||Miscellaneous cast iron or steel items||$1,130,473,000||+0.8%|
|47||Woven cotton fabrics||$1,120,154,000||+2.1%|
|48||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,117,748,000||-1.1%|
|49||Piston engine parts||$1,110,458,000||-7%|
|50||Synthetic yarn woven fabrics||$1,103,891,000||+23.1%|
|51||Men's shirts (not knit or crochet)||$1,101,098,000||+1.2%|
|53||Cruise/cargo ships, barges||$1,060,738,000||+87.7%|
|54||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,049,197,000||+7.6%|
|56||Monument/building stones, art||$1,020,511,000||+0.9%|
|57||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,000,916,000||-1.6%|
|58||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$988,356,000||+12%|
|59||Liquid pumps and elevators||$968,907,000||+0.2%|
|60||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$952,605,000||+20.7%|
|61||Infant clothing (knit or crochet)||$926,762,000||+9.3%|
|62||Fixed vegetable fats/oils||$924,711,000||+3%|
|65||Packing sacks, bags||$890,481,000||-4.6%|
|67||Vegetable saps, extracts||$884,278,000||-11.1%|
|69||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$873,555,000||+5.6%|
|70||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$856,414,000||-23.8%|
|71||Air or vacuum pumps||$850,244,000||+2%|
|72||Stainless steel bars, rods||$842,316,000||+1.5%|
|73||Soya-bean oil-cake, other solid residues||$837,578,000||-6.2%|
|74||Tea (including flavored)||$802,984,000||+4.6%|
|76||Leather clothing, accessories||$793,528,000||-3.8%|
|77||Monumental/buiilding stone (granite, sandstone)||$763,539,000||-6.8%|
|80||Men's shirts (knit or crochet)||$749,971,000||+17.5%|
|81||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$728,876,000||+1.8%|
|84||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$702,626,000||+4.1%|
|85||Iron or steel pipe fittings||$683,925,000||+0.7%|
|86||Electric motor parts||$682,506,000||+41.2%|
|87||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$666,625,000||-0.2%|
|89||Saturated acyclic mono acids||$652,894,000||-3.1%|
|90||Miscellaneous plastic items||$638,496,000||+8.4%|
|94||Coconuts, Brazil nuts, cashews||$627,401,000||-17.4%|
|96||Women's underwear, pajamas (knit or crochet)||$611,815,000||+7.1%|
|97||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$607,384,000||+6.3%|
|98||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$595,424,000||+2.4%|
|99||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$587,087,000||+23.9%|
|100||Ball, roller bearings||$580,668,000||+1%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$236.4 billion or 73.2% by value for all products exported from India during 2019.
In macroeconomic terms, India’s total exported goods represent 2.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($11.326 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 2.9% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2019 compares to 3.1% in 2018. Those percentages seem to indicate India’s relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for its total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. India’s unemployment rate was 7.8% at February 2020 up from 6.7% as of March 2019, according to Trading Economics.
See also India’s Top 10 Imports, India’s Top Trading Partners, Top Indian Trade Balances and India’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
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