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India’s Economy: What Foreign Trade Figures Reveal About It [Import and Export Lists]

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This economic profile of India explores the country’s position in the global economy by total GDP and GDP per capita.

We also discuss India’s most exported and most imported commodities and how these raw materials position the country as a growing economy in he East.

Economic Overview Of India

The country that is one of the so-called BRIC economies is recognized as being one of the major emerging national economies.

It is currently the 16th largest product export economy in the world.

India has a negative trade balance of $166 billion in 2018. This is due to the volume of total product imports amounting to $492 billion, alongside the total export volume of $326 billion.

GDP per capita for India is $2,010 ranking it at 152nd out of 196 countries.

India’s Most Exported Commodities

India’s most exported commodities are:

CommodityAmount (Annually)
Oil & Mineral Fuels$48.6 billion
Precious Stones & Metals$39.2 billion
Iron & Steel$9.9 billion
Cotton$8.1 billion
Aluminum$5.2 billion

India’s Other Notable Exports

  1. Packaged Medicaments – $14 billion
  2. Jewelry – $12.6 billion
  3. Rice – $7.47 billion
  4. Cars – $7.34 billion
  5. Vehicle Parts – $4.84 billion

India’s top export destinations are the United States ($52 billion), The United Arab Emirates ($27.1 billion), China ($16.6 billion), and Hong Kong ($12.8 billion).

India’s Most Imported Commodities

Here are India’s five most imported commodities by volume in USD:

CommodityAmount (Annually)
Oil & Mineral Fuels$168.8 billion
Precious Stones & Metals$64.9 billion
Iron & Steel$12 billion
Aluminum$5.5 billion
Copper$5.1 billion

India’s Other Notable Imports

  1. Gold – $32.8 billion (included in ‘Precious Stones & Metals’)
  2. Coal Briquettes – $27.2 billion
  3. Diamonds – $24.9 billion (included in ‘Precious Stones & Metals’)
  4. Telephones – $9.58 billion
  5. Broadcasting Equipment – $7.42 billion

More Information on India’s Imports/Exports

Here is an overview of India’s most traded commodities and how they play a role in the global economy.


India is the leading diamond exporter in the world with a 22.8% market share of an annual export market worth $116 billion. For the past five years, India’s total diamond exports were consistently above $23 billion per year.

Most Indian diamond mines were depleted several decades ago and the country is no longer considered a source for rough diamonds.

However, it does still have one state-owned mine in Madhya Pradesh and DeBeers is currently prospecting in five different regions.

Refined Petroleum

India is the fourth-largest exporter of refined petroleum with a 5.51% share of a global export market that is worth $753 billion annually.

The surplus-value of India’s refined petroleum is $36.5 billion after deducting the value of its refined petroleum imports ($5 billion) from the export total ($41.5 billion).

India’s total share of global refined petroleum exports only dropped 0.02% in the last five years.


India leads the way when it comes to rice exports and has 29.3% of the annual global total of $25.4 billion, with closest rival Thailand having 22.7%.

India’s rice production has increased three-fold over the last 50 years, although climatic conditions have been known to affect yields.

Iran recently lifted the ban on the import of basmati rice from India and this could be a significant development as Iran is the world’s second-largest importer of rice with a 5.5% import share of a global total of $25.4 billion.

Other main exporters like Vietnam (8.38%) and Pakistan (7.79%) have consistently India and Thailand for the past decade.


Major export markets for Indian aluminum goods, namely raw aluminum, are Malaysia (18.6%) and South Korea (15.6%).

India’s aluminum exports grew 440% in the last five years from $810 million to $3.56 billion. This is mainly in response to rising domestic demand.

Did you know? Although the Indian aluminum industry was first established in 1808, it actually took over 45 years before they managed to make production commercially viable.

Raw Sugar

India has slipped as the world’s third-biggest raw sugar exporter to a global market share of 3.97%.

This puts them at 5th place with $935 million behind the four biggest market shares boasted by:

The states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are responsible for more than 70% of the country’s sugar production.

A Few Interesting Facts About India

  • India is the world’s largest democracy, with over 1.3 billion people.
  • There is a greater percentage of vegetarians in India than any other country in the world.
  • India is now the world’s largest producer of milk, having recently overtaken the European Union’s production figures (Source: Statista).
  • Diamonds were first mined in India and the country was the global leader in diamond production until diamonds were subsequently discovered in Brazil during the 18th century.

Figures are based on 2018 OEC/IMF and 2018 GlobalEdge.msu.edu trade data unless stated otherwise.

Where Can I Trade Commodities?

If you’ve familiarized yourself with different ways to trade India’s most imported and exported commodities, you can browse some of these regulated brokers available in .

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Further Reading

You’ve seen our regulated brokers table — first, you may want to familiarize yourself with the categories of commodities they offer. See our guides on agricultural commodities, precious metals, and energy commodities.

To learn about different ways to trade India’s most traded commodities, see our trading instrument guides on:

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