Officially named the Republic of India, India is a South Asian nation that shares land borders with China, Nepal and Bhutan to its north-east, Burma and Bangladesh to its east, and Pakistan to its west.
India exported 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.
Applying a continental lens, almost half (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%).
India’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list highlighting 15 of India’s top trading partners in terms of countries that imported the most Indian shipments by dollar value during 2019. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Indian exports.
- United States: US$54.2 billion (16.8% of India’s totalexports)
- United Arab Emirates: $29.7 billion (9.2%)
- China: $17 billion (5.3%)
- Hong Kong: $11.5 billion (3.5%)
- Singapore: $10.7 billion (3.3%)
- United Kingdom: $8.82 billion (2.7%)
- Netherlands: $8.75 billion (2.7%)
- Germany: $8.6 billion (2.7%)
- Bangladesh: $8.3 billion (2.6%)
- Nepal: $7 billion (2.2%)
- Belgium: $6.3 billion (2%)
- Malaysia: $6.14 billion (1.9%)
- Saudi Arabia: $6.05 billion (1.9%)
- Vietnam: $5.49 billion (1.7%)
- France: $5.45 billion (1.7%)
About three-fifths (60.1%) of Indian exports in 2019 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Saudi Arabia increased its import purchases from India from 2018 to 2019 by the most at 10%. In second place was the United States via a 4.7% gain in value. France boosted its imports from India by 3%, trailed by a 2.8% improvement for China.
Leading the decliners were importers in Vietnam due to a -18.2% reduction year over year.
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.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. That export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
India incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- China: -US$51.2 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2019)
- Saudi Arabia: -$20.9 billion
- Iraq: -$19.6 billion
- Switzerland: -$16.4 billion
- South Korea: -$11.4 billion
- Indonesia: -$11.3 billion
- Qatar: -$8.5 billion
- Kuwait: -$7.8 billion
- Japan: -$7.7 billion
- Australia: -$7.7 billion
Only Indian deficits with Kuwait increased from 2018 to 2019 via a 20.5% expansion.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate India’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for India to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
India incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- United States: US$19.5 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2019)
- Bangladesh: $7.1 billion
- Nepal: $6.3 billion
- Netherlands: $5.1 billion
- Sri Lanka: $3.3 billion
- Spain: $2.7 billion
- Turkey: $2.3 billion
- Israel: $1.9 billion
- United Kingdom: $1.9 billion
- Kenya: $1.8 billion
Among India’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Indian surpluses with Spain (up 10.7%), Israel (up 9.1%) and United States (up 2.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate India’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for India to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Indian Trading Partners
India placed 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)
See also India’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, India’s Top 10 Imports, India’s Top 10 Exports and Top Indian Trade Balances
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on April 15, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 15, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 15, 2020
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on April 15, 2020
TradeIndia.com, Sellers by category. Accessed on April 15, 2020