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In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

India used to be a protectionist state for a long time, but the country has become progressively more open to international trade. Currently, trade represents 49% of its GDP (World Bank). The country mainly exports petroleum oils (20.9%), diamonds (5.3%), medicaments (3.9%), articles of jewellery (2.7%), telephone (2.4%), and rice (2.4%), while it imports petroleum oils (23.7%), coal and similar solid fuels (6.7%), gold (5%), petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons (4.4%), and diamonds (3.7%- data Comtrade 2022).

India’s main export partners are the United States (17.7%), the United Arab Emirates (6.9%), the Netherlands (4.1%), China (3.3%), and Bangladesh (3.1%), whereas imports come chiefly from China (14.0%), the United Arab Emirates (7.4%), the United States (7.1%), Saudi Arabia (6.3%), and Russia (5.5% - data Comtrade 2022). The country has recently signed free trade agreements with South Korea and ASEAN and has entered into negotiations with several partners (EU, MERCOSUR, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). In 2021, Brazil and India signalled their interest in expanding the FTA that India has with MERCOSUR, but the expansion is still under negotiation, pending approval from other members of the South American bloc. India is currently the world’s fastest-growing large economy, as well as the world's eighteenth-largest exporter and ninth-largest importer of goods (WTO). However, the trade regime and regulatory environment still remain relatively restrictive.

The country's trade balance is structurally negative, given that the country imports nearly 80% of its energy needs. However, as India benefits from the fluctuations in world hydrocarbon prices for its imports, the trade deficit has been oscillating for the past few years. In 2022, India exported USD 453.4 billion worth of goods, while imports accounted for USD 720.4 billion (+14.6% and +25.7% y-o-y, respectively). According to WTO figures, in the same year, exports of services amounted to USD 309.3 billion (+28.6% y-o-y), whereas the imports of services stood at USD 249.5 billion (+27.3% y-o-y). The overall trade deficit for 2022 was estimated at 3.7% of GDP by the World Bank. According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, during April-October 2023, the overall trade deficit declined by 35.86% dropping from USD 89.86 billion in 2022 to USD 57.64 billion. Additionally, the merchandise trade deficit showed improvement, decreasing from USD 167.14 billion in April-October 2022 to USD 147.07 billion in April-October 2023.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 514,464486,059373,202573,092720,441
Exports of Goods (million USD) 324,778324,340276,410395,426453,400
Imports of Services (million USD) 176,059179,430153,737195,956249,522
Exports of Services (million USD) 204,956214,762203,145240,510309,374

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO), Latest data available.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 43.639.937.845.749.4
Trade Balance (million USD) -186,692-157,678-95,450-176,721-267,188
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -105,918-73,452-8,342-74,039-134,661
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8.8-0.8-13.721.818.8
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 11.9-3.4-9.129.311.5
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 23.721.219.124.226.9
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 19.918.718.721.522.4

Source: World Bank, Latest data available.

 
Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) -0.94.74.34.44.4
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 2.56.06.06.16.7

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook, Latest data available.

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
United States 17.7%
United Arab Emirates 6.9%
Netherlands 4.1%
China 3.3%
Bangladesh 3.1%
See More Countries 64.9%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
China 14.0%
United Arab Emirates 7.4%
United States 7.1%
Saudi Arabia 6.3%
Russia 5.5%
See More Countries 59.8%

Source: UN Comtrade Database, Latest data available.

 

Main Products

452.7 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 20.9%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted...Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 5.3%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.9%
Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of...Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal (excl. articles > 100 years old) 2.7%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 2.4%
See More Products 64.9%
732.6 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 23.7%
Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels...Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels manufactured from coal 6.7%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 5.0%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 4.4%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted...Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 3.7%
See More Products 56.5%

Source: UN Comtrade Database, Latest data available.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import/Export Flows.

 

Main Services

308.4 bn USD of services exported in 2022
45.85%
24.65%
12.14%
6.93%
3.29%
2.23%
1.24%
1.12%
1.09%
1.08%
0.38%
171.5 bn USD of services imported in 2022
33.39%
25.02%
15.09%
9.18%
6.08%
3.08%
2.53%
1.67%
1.41%
1.35%
1.20%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest data available.

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Indian Rupee (INR)
Exchange Rate Regime
Managed floating exchange regime with no pre-determined path for the exchange rate.
Level of Currency Instability
Low. The Indian rupee is one of the most stable among emerging market currencies, but it is exposed to short-term volatility.
Exchange Rate on :

 
 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Indian Rupee (INR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MAD 6.856.727.297.397.86

Source: World Bank, Latest data available.

 
 

Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

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Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the International Coffee Agreement
International Economic Cooperation
India is a member of the following international economic organisations: IMF, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (dialogue partner), ICC, Colombo Plan, Commonwealth, G-15, G-20, G-24, G-77, WTO, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates India click here. International organisation membership of India is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by India can be consulted here.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Party of the TIR Convention
No

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
Accompanying Documents For Imports

- Manufacturer's Commercial Invoice duly Signed and if possible Bank Attested

- Price list of the commodities in shipment

- Manual and Catalogue , write ups or Technical Literature for laboratory or Electronic equipment

- Import declaration and GATT Declaration sign and stamp by consignee (Two copies)

- Packing List duly signed

- Purchase Order

- Authority letter from Consignee

- Import Duty/ Warehouse / Octroi/ D.O Charges in advance

- Any applicable Special Import License

- Certificate of origin, mill test certificate, test report (applicable for metal and chemical groups only)

- Copy of IEC/BIN Number required from importer.

For clearance of all live plant and flower, a phytosanitary certificate is required from Plant Quarantine Officer.

In case of Drugs and Medicines, prior approval of assistant Drug Controller is necessary.

Delivery of radioactive materials and explosives can only be cleared if bill of entry is accompanied by NOC from the department of atomic energy or the Controller of Explosives.

To go further, check out our service Shipping Documents.

Free-trade zones
The Indian government established several foreign trade zone initiatives to encourage export-oriented production, including Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Export Processing Zones (EPZs), Software Technology Parks (STPs), and Export Oriented Units (EOUs). According to the figures from the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, there are currently more than 250 operational SEZs. Click here for Contact and other details of SEZs established notified under the SEZ Act of 2005.
For details visit the portal of India's Special Economic Zones.
For Further Information
Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Ministry of Finance
Directorate General of Foreign Trade
Non Tariff Barriers
Import Licensing: Though India has eliminated its import licensing requirements for most consumer goods, certain products like motorcycles and vehicles still require import licenses.

Anti-dumping and countervailing measures: Such measures are imposed from time-to-time to protect the domestic manufacturers from dumping.

Export subsidies and domestic support: Several export subsidies and other domestic support is provided to several industries to make them competitive internationally.

Procurement: The Indian government allows a price preference for local suppliers in government contracts and generally discriminates against foreign suppliers.

Service barriers: There are still some restrictions for foreign companies to enter some service-oriented sectors like insurance, banking, securities, motion pictures, accounting, construction, architecture and engineering, retailing, legal services, express delivery services and telecommunication.

Other barriers: Equity restrictions and other trade-related investment measures are in place to give an unfair advantage to domestic companies.

For the most current information on India’s Prohibited Import List, please see this document.

Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
For details, refer to the section "India and WTO" on the website of Ministry of Commerce.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
The WTO pages dedicated to India
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the EU
Sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, inventoried by the EU

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Standards

National Standards Organisations
Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) - Earlier called as Indian Standards Institute (ISI)
Integration in the International Standards Network
The BIS is a founder member of the International Standard organization (ISO) and of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

For more details consult the Bureau of Indian Standards website.

Obligation to Use Standards
Although the standards proposed by the BIS are 'voluntary' in nature and are not at all mandatory, the Government of India has enforced mandatory certification on various products.

For the list of items brought under mandatory certification please consult the website of the Bureau of Indian Standards.

Classification of Standards
The symbol of the standard is ISI. Every ISI mark has a fixed format that carries the Indian Standard number on top of the mark based on the type of product.
Assessment of the System of Standardization
Certification by the BIS is highly regarded in India, and it can increase the sales potential in this market.

Click here for ‘Procedure for Granting BIS Certification'

Online Consultation of Standards
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)
Certification Organisations
Quality Council of India

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Latest Update: February 2024