India shipped US$261 billion worth of products around the globe in 2016. That figure represents roughly 1.6% of overall global exports estimated at $16.236 trillion one year earlier in 2015.
From a continental perspective, 49.1% of India’s total exports by value in 2016 were delivered to other Asian trade partners.
European importers purchased 19.5% of Indian shipments while 18.1% worth arrived in North America.
At 8.7%, importers in Africa represent a smaller portion of Indian exports.
India’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of India’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Indian shipments by dollar value during 2016. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Indian exports.
- United States: US$42 billion (16.1% of total Indian exports)
- United Arab Emirates: $30.7 billion (11.8%)
- Hong Kong: $13.2 billion (5.1%)
- China: $8.9 billion (3.4%)
- United Kingdom: $8.6 billion (3.3%)
- Singapore: $7.4 billion (2.8%)
- Germany: $7.2 billion (2.7%)
- Vietnam: $6 billion (2.3%)
- Bangladesh: $5.7 billion (2.2%)
- Belgium: $5.4 billion (2.1%)
- Saudi Arabia: $5 billion (1.9%)
- France: $4.9 billion (1.9%)
- Netherlands: $4.9 billion (1.9%)
- Nepal: $4.5 billion (1.7%)
- Turkey: $4.5 billion (1.7%)
Three-fifths (60.8%) of Indian exports in 2016 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Turkey increased its import purchases from India from 2009 to 2016 by 249.9%. In second place was Nepal with a 240.9% gain in value. Vietnam boosted its imports from India up 224.9%, followed by a 160.3% improvement for Bangladesh and a 119.6% boost from United States-based importers.
Two top trade partners cut back on their imports from India, namely the Netherlands (down -24.7%) and China (down -14.1%).
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. 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.
In 2016, India incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$51.6 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2016)
- Switzerland: -$13.8 billion
- Saudi Arabia: -$13.4 billion
- Indonesia: -$9.1 billion
- Iraq: -$9 billion
- South Korea: -$8.7 billion
- Qatar: -$6.7 billion
- Japan: -$6 billion
- Iran: -$5.8 billion
- Australia: -$5.8 billion
Among India’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Indian deficits with China (up 154.7%), Indonesia (up 97%) and South Korea (up 96.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
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.
In 2016, India incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- United States: US$21.6 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2016)
- United Arab Emirates: $11.4 billion
- Hong Kong: $6.1 billion
- Bangladesh: $5 billion
- United Kingdom: $4.7 billion
- Nepal: $4.1 billion
- Sri Lanka: $3.5 billion
- Turkey: $3.3 billion
- Netherlands: $3.1 billion
- Vietnam: $2.8 billion
Among India’s trading partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, Indian surpluses with United States (up 590.9%), Nepal (up 354.4%) and Hong Kong (up 226.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
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 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)
See also India’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, India’s Top 10 Imports, India’s Top 10 Exports, Highest Value Indian Export Products and Top Indian Trade Balances
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 9, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on March 9, 2017
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on March 9, 2017
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 9, 2017
TradeIndia.com, Sellers by category. Accessed on March 9, 2017