India exported US$394.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2021, up by 33.4% increase since 2017 and accelerating by 43.3% from 2020 to 2021.
India is a relatively small player in international trade. The value of India’s exports represent 1.8% of total world exports of $21.513 trillion for 2021.
Applying a continental lens, 45.6% of India’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 20.1% were sold to North American importers. India shipped another 19.2% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (9.6%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (3.6%) then Oceania led by Australia (1.9%).
India’s Top 25 Trading Partners
Below is a list highlighting 25 of India’s top trading partners in terms of countries that imported the most Indian shipments by dollar value during 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Indian exports.
- United States: US$71.5 billion (18.1% of India’s total exports)
- United Arab Emirates: $25.4 billion (6.4%)
- China: $23 billion (5.8%)
- Bangladesh: $14.1 billion (3.6%)
- Hong Kong: $11.3 billion (2.9%)
- Singapore: $10.65 billion (2.7%)
- United Kingdom: $10.37 billion (2.6%)
- Netherlands: $10.3 billion (2.6%)
- Germany: $9.5 billion (2.4%)
- Nepal: $9.2 billion (2.3%)
- Belgium: $9.1 billion (2.3%)
- Saudi Arabia: $8.25 billion (2.1%)
- Indonesia: $8.1 billion (2%)
- Italy: $7.7 billion (2%)
- Turkey: $7.26 billion (1.8%)
- South Korea: $7.1 billion (1.8%)
- Australia: $6.92 billion (1.8%)
- Malaysia: $6.7 billion (1.7%)
- Vietnam: $6.64 billion (1.7%)
- Brazil: $6.3 billion (1.6%)
- France: $6.13 billion (1.6%)
- Japan: $6.08 billion (1.5%)
- South Africa: $6 billion (1.5%)
- Thailand: $5.5 billion (1.4%)
- Sri Lanka: $4.8 billion (1.2%)
Just over three-quarters (75.4%) of Indian exports in 2021 were delivered to the above 25 trade partners.
India grew its export sales at the fastest pace to international customers in Turkey (up 99.8% from 2021 to 2022), Australia (up 99.3%), Belgium (up 98.4%), Indonesia (up 85.4%), Bangladesh (up 78.1%), Italy (up 77.2%), South Africa (up 71.2%) then Brazil (up 70.4%).
Countries Causing India’s Worst Trade Deficits
India incurred an overall -$175.6 billion trade deficit for all products during 2021, growing 89.8% from -$92.5 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$64.5 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2021)
- Switzerland: -$28.2 billion
- Iraq: -$24.5 billion
- Saudi Arabia: -$19.4 billion
- United Arab Emirates: -$17.6 billion
- South Korea: -$10.0 billion
- Qatar: -$9.8 billion
- Indonesia: -$8.6 billion
- Japan: -$8.34 billion
- Kuwait: -$8.25 billion
Among India’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Indian deficits with United Arab Emirates (up 196.3%), Switzerland (up 180.2%) and Saudi Arabia (up 68.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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.
Countries Generating India’s Biggest Trade Surpluses
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 of America: US$30.1 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2021)
- Bangladesh: $12.3 billion
- Nepal: $7.9 billion
- Netherlands: $5.9 billion
- Turkey: $5.3 billion
- Sri Lanka: $3.8 billion
- United Kingdom: $3.6 billion
- Italy: $2.88 billion
- Togo: $2.56 billion
- Spain: $2.4 billion
Among India’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Indian surpluses with Italy (up 341.8%), Togo (up 172.6%) and Turkey (up 157.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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.
India’s Major Export Companies
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.
- Bajaj Auto (recreational products)
- Bharat Heavy Electricals (electrical equipment)
- Bharat Petroleum (oil, gas)
- Coal India (diversified metals, mining)
- Grasim Industries (construction materials)
- Hero Motocorp (recreational products)
- Hindalco Industries (aluminum)
- Hindustan Petroleum (oil, gas)
- Indian Oil (oil, gas)
- ITC (tobacco)
- JSW Steel (iron, steel)
- Reliance Industries (oil, gas)
- Steel Authority of India (iron, steel)
- Sun Pharma Industries (pharmaceuticals)
- Tata Motors (cars, trucks)
- Tata 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 May 14, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 14, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 14, 2022
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on May 14, 2022
TradeIndia.com, Sellers by category. Accessed on May 14, 2022