Click here to read Rabobank's economic vision for this country. The information and publications in this tab are prepared and made available by third parties and are only available in English. No rights can be derived. Rabobank is not responsible or liable for the information and publications. Click here for the full disclaimer.

Trade Profile

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


Foreign Trade in Figures

India was a protectionist state for a long time, but the country has become progressively more open to international trade. It 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). India is the world's eighth largest exporter and tenth largest importer of commercial services. Trade represents 40% of the country's GDP (World Bank, 2016).

India's trade balance is structurally negative, given that the country imports nearly 80% of its energy needs. India benefited from the decline in world hydrocarbon prices for its imports, which led to a slight reduction in the trade deficit.
India exported USD 261 billion worth of goods in 2016, while imports accounted for USD 356.7 billion, resulting in a negative trade balance of USD 95.7 billion.

India’s top exported products are refined petroleum oils followed by diamonds, jewelry, drugs and medicines for therapeutic or prophylactic purposes. The country mainly imports hydrocarbons, precious minerals, electrical appliances and machinery.

The top export destinations of India are the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, China and the UK; while the main countries of origin of Indian imports are China, the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 489,694465,397462,910391,977359,065
Exports of Goods (million USD) 296,828314,848322,694267,147264,020
Imports of Services (million USD) 128,955125,189126,710122,225133,710
Exports of Services (million USD) 145,030148,188155,670155,288161,845
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 6.0-8.10.9-5.92.3
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 31.328.426.022.320.6
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 24.525.423.019.919.2
Trade Balance (million USD) -201,668-162,576-144,047-136,884-107,476
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -136,063-92,135-67,970-63,249-41,579
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 55.853.849.042.239.8

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2017; World Bank - 2017


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United States 16.1%
United Arab Emirates 11.5%
Hong Kong 5.1%
China 3.4%
United Kingdom 3.3%
Singapore 2.8%
Germany 2.8%
Vietnam 2.3%
Bangladesh 2.2%
Belgium 2.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 17.0%
United States 5.7%
United Arab Emirates 5.4%
Saudi Arabia 5.2%
Switzerland 4.2%
South Korea 3.4%
Indonesia 3.4%
Germany 3.2%
Iraq 2.8%
Japan 2.7%

Source: Comtrade, 2017


Main Products

260.3 bn USD of products exported in 2016
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 10.4%
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) 9.2%
Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal (excl. articles > 100 years old) 4.8%
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) 4.5%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.4%
Rice 2.0%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 1.7%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 1.5%
Meat of bovine animals, frozen 1.4%
Crustaceans, fit for human consumption, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine, incl. crustaceans in shell cooked beforehand by steaming or by boiling in water; flours, meals and pellets of crustaceans, fit for human consumption 1.4%
356.7 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 17.1%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 6.4%
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%
Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels manufactured from coal 3.6%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 3.0%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 2.7%
Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 1.6%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 1.5%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 1.3%
Dried leguminous vegetables, shelled, whether or not skinned or split 1.1%

Source: Comtrade, 2017


Main Services

310.5 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Computer and information services
Other business services
Financial services
Insurance services
Communications services
Construction services
Cultural and recreational services
Royalties and license fees
Government services
159.4 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Other business services
Royalties and license fees
Financial services
Computer and information services
Cultural and recreational services
Insurance services
Construction services
Communications services
Government services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data


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.
Monetary Indicators 20132014201520162017
Indian Rupee (INR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 58.6061.0364.1567.2065.12

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
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 of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
Main International Economic Cooperation
India is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and has multilateral and bilateral trade agreements with many countries. The country signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP). India also signed in March 2011 a Tariff-Cutting Trade Treaty with Japan that will eliminate or reduce about 94% of tariffs on the countries’ bilateral trade over a ten-year period.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets

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.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention

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.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
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.

Free Zones
Called Export Processing Zone-EPZ to promote exports. For details visit : Special Economic Zones.
For Further Information
Central Board of Excise and Customs
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

Learn more about How to Export to India on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.



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


© Export Entreprises SA, All Rights Reserved.
Last Updates: May 2018