Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Indian rupee depreciated by -9.8% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -3% from 2018 to 2019. The weaker Indian rupee makes India’s imports paid for in stronger US dollars in 2019 relatively more expensive when converted starting from Indian rupees.
From a continental perspective, 60.9% of India’s total imports by value in 2019 were purchased from fellow Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 15.9% of import purchased by India while 9.2% worth originated from North America with another 8.1% coming from exporters in Africa. Smaller percentages arrived in India from Latin America (3.4%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Oceania (2.3%) led by Australia.
Given India’s population of 1.352 billion people, its total $480 billion spent on 2019 imports translates to roughly $360 in yearly product demand from every person living in the vast South Asian country.
India’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in India’s import purchases during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into India.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$153.5 billion (32% of total imports)
- Gems, precious metals: $60 billion (12.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $50.4 billion (10.5%)
- Machinery including computers: $44.1 billion (9.2%)
- Organic chemicals: $20.5 billion (4.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $14.6 billion (3.1%)
- Iron, steel: $11.6 billion (2.4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $9.6 billion (2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $9.5 billion (2%)
- Fertilizers: $7.3 billion (1.5%)
India’s top 10 imports accounted for about four-fifths (79.4%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported fertilizers posted the fastest increase in value among India’s top 10 import categories, up 23.3% from 2018 to 2019. The other top category to gain was machinery including computers via a 1.6% improvement.
Leading the decliners were organic chemicals (down -9.3%), mineral fuels including oil (also down -9.3%) then gems and precious metals (down -7.8%).
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of India’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article or under the adjacent product folder tabs.
In 2019, Indian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$102.3 billion (down -11.1% from 2018)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $23 billion (down -6.5%)
- Petroleum gases: $17.4 billion (down -8.8%)
- Processed petroleum oils: $6.4 billion (up 11.8%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $2.6 billion (up 19.9%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $1.1 billion (down -38.3%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $490.2 million (down -17%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $117 million (down -4.2%)
- Tar pitch, coke: $37.1 million (down -57.7%)
- Electrical energy: $25.5 million (down -18.2%)
Among these import subcategories, Indian purchases of petroleum oil residues (up 19.9%) and processed petroleum oils (up 11.8%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imports related to mineral fuels among Indian businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Indian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of gems and precious metals.
- Gold (unwrought): US$32.2 billion (up 0.9% from 2018)
- Diamonds (unmounted/unset): $22 billion (down -17.4%)
- Silver (unwrought): $3 billion (down -21.7%)
- Precious/semi-precious stones (unstrung): $1.3 billion (up 19.9%)
- Jewelry: $601.8 million (down -9.2%)
- Synthetic precious stones: $480 million (up 50.8%)
- Platinum (unwrought): $284.5 million (down -0.7%)
- Imitation jewelry: $40.4 million (up 0.3%)
- Precious stone dust, powder: $26.2 million (down -14.2%)
- Pearls: $21.4 million (down -90.2%)
Among these import subcategories, Indian purchases of synthetic precious stones (up 50.8%), unstrung precious and semi-precious stones (up 19.9%) then unwrought gold (up 0.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported gems and precious metals among Indian businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Indian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electric items including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$13.6 billion (down -27.7% from 2018)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $9.9 billion (up 36.2%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $3.2 billion (down -9%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $2.2 billion (up 1.3%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $2 billion (down -3.5%)
- TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras: $1.9 billion (up 20.3%)
- Electric storage batteries: $1.7 billion (down -1%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $1.5 billion (down -3.8%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $1.5 billion (up 18.9%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $1.4 billion (down -5.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Indian purchases of integrated circuits and microassemblies (up 36.2%), TV receivers, transmitters and digital cameras (up 20.3%) then TV radio and radar device parts (up 18.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported organic chemicals among Indian businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Indian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$6.6 billion (up 4% from 2018)
- Turbo-jets: $3.9 billion (up 28.6%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $2.1 billion (down -4.6%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $1.9 billion (up 6.1%)
- Computer parts, accessories: $1.6 billion (up 1.4%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $1.5 billion (up 4.1%)
- Printing machinery: $1.4 billion (down -10%)
- Rubber/plastic article making machines: $1.4 billion (up 35.4%)
- Machinery parts: $1.4 billion (down -5.8%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $1.2 billion (down -0.7%)
Among these import subcategories, Indian purchases of rubber or plastic article-making machines (up 35.4%), turbo-jets (up 28.6%) then air or vacuum pumps (up 6.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Indian businesses and consumers.
Searchable List of India’s Most Valuable Import Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of India’s most in-demand imported goods during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total import value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||India's Import Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|3||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$23,049,175,000||-6.5%|
|6||Phone system devices including smartphones||$13,583,455,000||-27.7%|
|8||Computers, optical readers||$6,579,043,000||+4%|
|9||Processed petroleum oils||$6,365,756,000||+11.8%|
|13||Iron or steel scrap||$3,597,524,000||+4.7%|
|15||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$3,219,398,000||-9%|
|17||Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks||$2,993,755,000||-5.3%|
|20||Petroleum oil residues||$2,593,104,000||+19.9%|
|21||Vinyl chloride polymers||$2,353,721,000||+2.7%|
|24||Electrical converters/power units||$2,180,432,000||+1.3%|
|27||Aluminum waste, scrap||$2,066,776,000||-16.9%|
|29||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$2,010,110,000||-0.5%|
|31||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$1,941,310,000||+20.3%|
|32||Air or vacuum pumps||$1,901,541,000||+6.1%|
|35||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$1,798,103,000||+4.7%|
|37||Electric storage batteries||$1,662,848,000||-1%|
|38||Computer parts, accessories||$1,598,333,000||+1.4%|
|40||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$1,536,989,000||-3.8%|
|41||TV/radio/radar device parts||$1,522,461,000||+18.9%|
|42||Dried shelled vegetables||$1,505,498,000||+40%|
|43||Flat-rolled other alloy steel products||$1,503,531,000||-0.8%|
|44||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$1,477,435,000||+4.1%|
|45||Unrecorded sound media||$1,435,971,000||-5.3%|
|46||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$1,398,724,000||-5.4%|
|48||Rubber/plastic article making machines||$1,391,673,000||+35.4%|
|50||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$1,369,272,000||+5.5%|
|53||Precious/semi-precious stones (unstrung)||$1,290,720,000||+19.9%|
|54||Paper/paperboard waste, scrap||$1,258,092,000||-5.5%|
|56||Saturated acyclic mono acids||$1,244,598,000||-21.1%|
|57||Other measuring/testing machines||$1,236,245,000||-2.1%|
|58||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$1,212,391,000||-0.7%|
|59||Copper ores, concentrates||$1,203,818,000||-54.4%|
|61||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,173,316,000||+3.1%|
|63||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$1,116,331,000||+4.7%|
|66||Medication mixes in dosage||$1,093,231,000||+2.5%|
|67||Ball, roller bearings||$1,092,376,000||-11.8%|
|69||Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)||$1,050,942,000||+68.5%|
|70||Iron or steel tubes, pipes||$1,046,013,000||+14.5%|
|71||Piston engine parts||$1,043,902,000||-16.1%|
|74||Liquid pumps and elevators||$1,036,666,000||-10.3%|
|76||Coconuts, Brazil nuts, cashews||$1,001,200,000||-43%|
|80||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$967,882,000||-17.3%|
|81||Copper waste, scrap||$965,916,000||+7.1%|
|82||Electric motors, generators||$957,110,000||-5.9%|
|86||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$921,651,000||+9.7%|
|87||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$905,549,000||+18.9%|
|88||Miscellaneous plastic items||$895,852,000||-1.6%|
|91||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$856,236,000||-10.3%|
|92||Unsaturated acyclic mono acids||$833,496,000||-1.5%|
|93||Other coloring matter, luminophores||$827,774,000||+2.2%|
|94||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$820,888,000||-3.5%|
|97||Natural calcium/aluminum phosphates||$807,866,000||+6%|
|98||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$803,068,000||+34.5%|
|99||Newsprint (rolls or sheets)||$786,648,000||-14.6%|
These 100 imported goods were worth a subtotal of US$372.3 billion or 77.6% by value for all products imported into India during 2019.
See also India’s Top 10 Exports, India’s Top Trading Partners, Top Indian Trade Balances and India’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on April 15, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on April 15, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 15, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 15, 2020