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Discuss the major trends in India’s foreign trade. Also list the major products that India trades with other countries.

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India is 10th largest economy in the world. It is the second fastest growing economy, next only to China. But India’s performance in international business is not very good. India’s share in world trade in 2003 was just 0.8%. In absolute terms, there has been significant increase in imports as well as exports. Total exports have increased from 606 crores in 1950- 51 to Rs. 2, 93,367 crores in 2003-04 while imports have increased from 608 crores in 1950-51 to 3, 59,108 crores in 2003-04. Exports increased 480 times while imports increased 590 times indicating that there is adverse balance of trade. India’s major trading partners are USA, UK, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Hong Kong, UAE, China, Switzerland, Singapore and Malaysia. India’s major items of exports include: Textiles, garments, gems and jewellery, engineering products and chemicals, agriculture and allied products. 

India’s major items of imports include: Crude oil and petroleum products, capital goods, electronic goods, pearls, precious and semi precious stones, gold, silver and chemicals. Before 1991, promotion of import substitution and discouraging of exports was government strategy. Imports consisted of machinery, equipment and intermediates in production, petroleum and petroleum-products. After green revolution, imports of fertilizer too increased. Before 1991, India’s exports consisted of agricultural products like tea, raw cotton with the diversifying industrial structure, promoted by import substitution, exports of manufactures were growing. During 1986-91, external trade formed only 13.40 % of the GDP. During the 1990-2000, this share is rising continuously. India’s foreign trade has grown to exports of $250 billion and imports of $380 billion in 2010- 11. The ratio of exports plus imports to GDP has grown from 13.40 % during 1985-90 to almost three times that, being 37.7 % in 2010-11. On adding services it becomes from 22.9 % in the 1990s to 49.0 % in 2010-11. Leading role has been played by ‘invisibles’ which includes both services, mainly software services, export of which has grown to $59 billion in 2010-11. It has decreased the current account deficit from $130 billion to $44. This deficit was compensated by capital account surplus of $59 billion in that year. But it is only because of IT services and we are still lacking in manufacturing exports which can generate a large volume of employment. We have not done as well as China and Malaysia have done.

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