Strategically located near highly populated trading partners including China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Republic of India shipped US$394.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2021.
That dollar amount reflects a 33.4% increase since 2017 and a 43.3% speeding up from 2020 to 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021 on a Purchasing strength Parity basis, the Indian rupee dropped by -13.5% against the US dollar since 2017 but appreciated by 0.2% from 2020 to 2021. India’s weaker local money since 2017 makes India’s exports paid for in stronger US dollars comparatively less expensive for international buyers.
India’s biggest export products by value in 2021 were perfected petroleum oils, diamonds, medication mixes in dosage, jewelry and rice. In aggregate, those major exports approach one third (29.4%) of the India’s overall export revenues. The commodities themselves suggest India’s comparatively diversified range of exported goods.
India ranks among world-leading countries exporting diamonds, jewelry and perfected petroleum.
The latest obtainable country-specific data shows that 53.9% of products exported from India were bought by importers in: United States (18.1% of the Indian global total), United Arab Emirates (6.4%), mainland China (5.8%), Bangladesh (3.6%), Hong Kong (2.9%), Singapore (2.7%), United Kingdom (2.6%), Netherlands (also 2.6%), Germany (2.4%), Nepal (2.3%), Belgium (also 2.3%) and Saudi Arabia (2.1%).
From a continental perspective, 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%).
Given India’s population of 1.392 billion people, its total $394.8 billion in 2021 exported products translates to approximately $300 for every resident in the great South Asian country. That dollar metric represents a meaningful increase from an average $200 per capita in 2020.
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Indian global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage proportion each export category represents in terms of overall exports from India.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$56.4 billion (14.3% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $38.2 billion (9.7%)
- Machinery including computers: $24.2 billion (6.1%)
- Iron, steel: $21.2 billion (5.4%)
- Organic chemicals: $21.2 billion (5.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $19.5 billion (4.9%)
- Vehicles: $18.9 billion (4.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $18.8 billion (4.8%)
- Cereals: $12.4 billion (3.1%)
- Cotton: $10 billion (2.5%)
India’s top 10 exports surpassed three-fifths (61%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 104.1% from 2020 to 2021. That product category was propelled by higher international revenues from India’s exported perfected petroleum oil.
In second place for improving export sales was iron and steel via a 99.4% gain.
India’s shipments of cotton posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 72.6%.
The slowest grower among India’s top 10 export categories was pharmaceuticals thanks to its 5.6% improvement year over year.
observe that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of India’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.
Products Generating India’s Greatest Trade Surpluses
The following types of Indian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or sets exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or sets.
- Pharmaceuticals: US$16.2 billion (Up by 1.3% since 2020)
- Vehicles: $12.5 billion (Up by 43.8%)
- Cereals: $12.3 billion (Up by 43.6%)
- Iron, steel: $9.5 billion (Up by 209%)
- Cotton: $9.3 billion (Up by 75%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $7.3 billion (Up by 27.3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $6.7 billion (Up by 20.4%)
- Fish: $6.6 billion (Up by 31.3%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $6.1 billion (Up by 45.3%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $4 billion (Up by 99.1%)
India has highly positive net exports in the international trade of drugs and medicines. In turn, these cashflows indicate India’s strong competitive advantages under the pharmaceuticals product category.
Products Causing India’s Biggest Trade Deficits
Below are exports from India that consequence in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports show product categories where foreign spending on home country India’s goods trail Indian importer spending on foreign products.
India incurred an overall -$175.6 billion trade deficit for all products during 2021, expanding by 89.8% from -$92.5 billion in red ink one year earlier.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$114 billion (Up by 48.6% since 2020)
- Gems, precious metals: -$50.2 billion (Up by 202.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$37.9 billion (Up by 28.5%)
- Machinery including computers: -$24.2 billion (Up by 40.7%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$15.8 billion (Up by 72.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$10.7 billion (Up by 99.1%)
- Fertilizers: -$9 billion (Up by 27.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$7.4 billion (Up by 44.8%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$7.2 billion (Up by 57.9%)
- Organic chemicals: -$6.1 billion (Up by 733.1%)
India has highly negative net exports and consequently thorough international trade deficits for mineral fuels and related products, particularly for crude oil, coal and petroleum gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate India’s competitive disadvantages in the international mineral fuels-related market, but also represent meaningful opportunities for India to enhance its position in the global economy by focused innovations for pertinent goods.
India’s Major Export Companies
India places over 50 corporations on the Forbes Global 2000 rankings. Many of these are major Indian export companies. Below is a selection of some of the biggest Indian corporations.
- Reliance Industries (oil, gas)
- Tata Motors (cars, trucks)
- Indian Oil (oil, gas)
- Coal India (diversified metals, mining)
- ITC (tobacco)
- Bharat Heavy Electricals (electrical equipment)
- Hindalco Industries (aluminum)
- Tata Steel (iron, steel)
- Bharat Petroleum (oil, gas)
- Hindustan Petroleum (oil, gas)
- Sun Pharma Industries (pharmaceuticals)
- Steel Authority of India (iron, steel)
- Bajaj Auto (as a hobby products)
- Hero Motocorp (as a hobby products)
- Grasim Industries (construction materials)
- JSW Steel (iron, steel)
Searchable List of India’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-need goods shipped from India during 2021. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decline since 2020.
|Rank||Indian Export Product||2021 Value (US$)||Change|
|1||Processed petroleum oils||$54,037,062,000||+106.4%|
|3||Medication mixes in dosage||$17,122,453,000||+2.9%|
|7||Phone devices including smartphones||$6,456,381,000||+64%|
|10||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$5,278,607,000||+73.6%|
|11||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$5,253,863,000||+35.3%|
|12||Yarn (85%+ cotton)||$4,696,022,000||+80.1%|
|14||Iron ores, concentrates||$4,159,252,000||+7.3%|
|16||Sugar (cane or beet)||$3,813,056,000||+52.8%|
|17||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$3,594,440,000||+19.1%|
|18||Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks||$3,519,563,000||+31.6%|
|20||Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)||$3,100,971,000||+30.6%|
|21||Synthetic organic coloring||$2,981,486,000||+33.2%|
|25||Rubber tires (new)||$2,691,776,000||+54.5%|
|26||Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)||$2,682,048,000||+85.2%|
|27||Women’s clothing (not knit or crochet)||$2,557,759,000||+28.3%|
|28||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$2,543,756,000||+265.7%|
|29||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$2,347,422,000||+22.6%|
|32||Electrical converters/strength units||$2,141,826,000||+26%|
|33||Unglazed ceramic flags, tiles, cubes||$1,758,294,000||+14.1%|
|36||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$1,669,887,000||+51.5%|
|37||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$1,535,463,000||+15.9%|
|38||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$1,514,067,000||+38%|
|39||Piston engine parts||$1,435,376,000||+56.7%|
|41||situations, handbags, wallets||$1,369,563,000||+30.9%|
|42||Synthetic filament yarn||$1,364,679,000||+76.1%|
|43||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,353,510,000||+33.2%|
|44||perfected copper, unwrought alloys||$1,330,100,000||+180%|
|46||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,313,916,000||+49%|
|47||Monument/building stones, art||$1,313,279,000||+20.2%|
|52||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,261,702,000||+27.3%|
|53||Other organic compounds||$1,252,298,000||+0.9%|
|54||Synthetic precious stones||$1,251,881,000||+119.9%|
|55||Miscellaneous cast iron or steel items||$1,247,193,000||+23%|
|56||Woven cotton fiber||$1,242,747,000||+32.7%|
|57||Packing sacks, bags||$1,191,590,000||+51.2%|
|59||Liquid pumps and elevators||$1,159,099,000||+41.1%|
|60||Air or vacuum pumps||$1,152,004,000||+43.2%|
|61||Fixed vegetable fats/oils||$1,143,559,000||+25.4%|
|62||Men’s suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$1,096,957,000||+27.7%|
|64||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$1,088,762,000||+33.6%|
|65||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$1,065,299,000||+16%|
|66||Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$1,054,454,000||+336.9%|
|67||Stainless steel bars, rods||$1,012,977,000||+60.7%|
|68||Infant clothing (knit or crochet)||$1,011,072,000||+26.2%|
|70||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$978,073,000||+40.5%|
|75||Women’s shirts (not knit or crochet)||$920,578,000||+19.1%|
|76||Tracksuits, swimwear (not knit or crochet)||$913,486,000||+14.7%|
|77||Soya-bean oil-cake, other substantial residues||$900,822,000||+28.4%|
|78||Synthetic yarn woven fiber||$875,569,000||+11.5%|
|79||Miscellaneous plastic items||$854,875,000||+52.7%|
|80||Monumental/buiilding stone (granite, sandstone)||$853,875,000||+10.9%|
|81||Saturated acyclic mono acids||$853,033,000||+37%|
|83||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$834,334,000||+35.9%|
|85||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$822,306,000||+101.4%|
|87||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$819,011,000||+34.2%|
|89||Electric motor parts||$802,053,000||+1%|
|90||Woven floor coverings including carpets||$792,537,000||+38%|
|92||Men’s shirts (not knit or crochet)||$773,410,000||+13.7%|
|94||Textile floor coverings including carpets||$764,634,000||+39.3%|
|95||Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes||$761,984,000||+82.8%|
|96||Precious/semi-precious stones (unstrung)||$759,399,000||+202.5%|
|98||Iron or steel pipe fittings||$752,140,000||+55.8%|
|99||Vegetable saps, extracts||$740,559,000||+19.5%|
|100||Ball, roller bearings||$736,981,000||+60.9%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$285 billion or 72.2% by value for all products exported from India during 2021.
In macroeconomic terms, India’s total exported goods represent 3.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($10.218 trillion valued in Purchasing strength Parity US dollars). That 3.9% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2021 compares to 2.7% in 2020. Those percentages suggest India’s comparatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for its total economic performance, albeit based on a short timespan.
Another meaningful indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. India’s unemployment rate was 7.8% at April 2022, up from 6.5% for March 2021 according to Trading Economics.
See also India’s Top 10 Imports, 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, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 14, 2022.
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 14, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates chosen indicators (National money per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on May 14, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing strength Parity). Accessed on May 14, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 14, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 14, 2022
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Purchasing strength parities (PPP). Accessed on May 14, 2022
Richest Country Reports, meaningful Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on May 14, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of India. Accessed on May 14, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on May 14, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing strength parity. Accessed on May 14, 2022
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