India imported US$356.7 billion worth of goods from around the globe in 2016, up by 33.9% since 2009 but down by -8.7% from 2015 to 2016.
India’s top 10 imports accounted for almost three-quarters (74.3%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Indian imports represent 2.2% of total global imports which totalled $16.473 trillion one year earlier in 2015.
From a continental perspective, 58.2% of India’s total imports by value in 2016 were purchased from other Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 17.5% of import sales to India while 7.4% worth originated from North America with 7.3% coming from suppliers in Africa.
Given India’s population of 1.267 billion people, its total $356.7 billion in 2016 imports translates to roughly $280 in yearly product demand from every person in the country.
India’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in India’s import purchases during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into India. At the more granular four-digit Harmonized System Tariff code level, India’s number one import is crude oil, gold, diamonds and mobile phones.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$89.3 billion (25% of total imports)
- Gems, precious metals: $48.1 billion (13.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $37 billion (10.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $32.5 billion (9.1%)
- Organic chemicals: $14.8 billion (4.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $11.4 billion (3.2%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $10.5 billion (2.9%)
- Iron, steel: $8.7 billion (2.4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $7.2 billion (2%)
- Ships, boats: $5.5 billion (1.5%)
Imported plastics and plastic articles had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 121.9% for the 7-year period starting in 2009.
In second place for improving import sales were animal or vegetable fats, oils and wax up 112.3%. Then came Indian imports of ships or boats recording the third-fastest gain at 80.9%.
Iron or steel was the laggard among the top 10 Indian imports, posting a modest 2.9% uptick.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2016, Indian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuel-related products:
- Crude oil: US$60.9 billion (down -6.2%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $12.7 billion (up 67.3%)
- Petroleum gases: $9.6 billion (up 134%)
- Processed petroleum oils: $3.7 billion (down -19.2%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $1.5 billion (up 159.1%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $696.1 million (up 14.9%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $147.3 million (down -7.1%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $95.4 million (down -26.8%)
- Tar pitch, coke: $25.8 million (up 120.4%)
- Distilled tar: $7.6 million (up 358.6%)
Among imports, Indian purchases of distilled tar (up 358.6%), petroleum oil residues (up 159.1%) and petroleum gases (up 134%) were the fastest-growing categories from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imports related to mineral fuels among Indian businesses and consumers.
In 2016, Indian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of gems and precious metals:
- Gold (unwrought): US$22.9 billion (down -1.9%)
- Diamonds (unmounted/unset): $19 billion (up 24.6%)
- Precious/semi-precious stones (unstrung): $2.1 billion (up 887.6%)
- Silver (unwrought): $1.8 billion (up 219.3%)
- Pearls: $1.5 billion (up 16,887%)
- Jewelry: $355.5 million (down -34.4%)
- Synthetic precious stones: $207.3 million (up 1,059%)
- Platinum (unwrought): $180.7 million (down -93.1%)
- Goldsmith/silversmith wares: $39.8 million (up 1.5%)
- Imitation jewelry: $29.3 million (up 142.9%)
Among these import subcategories, Indian purchases of pearls (up 16,887%), synthetic precious stones (up 1,059%) and unstrung precious or semi-precious stones (up 887.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported gems and precious metals among Indian businesses and consumers.
In 2016, Indian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronics products:
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$14.7 billion (up 66.1%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $3.6 billion (up 313.5%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $1.8 billion (down -20%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $1.6 billion (up 8.6%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $1.6 billion (up 68.8%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $1.5 billion (up 43.6%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $1.4 billion (up 39.7%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $1.1 billion (up 42.6%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $787.1 million (up 12.6%)
- Electric storage batteries: $772.5 million (up 192.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Indian purchases of solar power diodes and semi-conductors (up 313.5%), electric storage batteries (up 192.3%) and TV receivers, monitors or projectors (up 68.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Indian businesses and consumers.
In 2016, Indian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery:
- Computers, optical readers: US$4.6 billion (up 127.4%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $2.1 billion (up 208.1%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $1.4 billion (down -4.2%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $1.4 billion (up 72.3%)
- Computer parts, accessories: $1.3 billion (down -4.6%)
- Printing machinery: $1.2 billion (up 59%)
- Turbo-jets: $1.1 billion (up 103.8%)
- Machinery parts: $1 billion (up 9.7%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $1 billion (up 56.7%)
- Ball, roller bearings: $890.5 million (up 57.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Indian purchases of taps, valves and similar appliances (up 208.1%), computers and optical readers (up 127.4%) and turbo-jets (up 103.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Indian businesses and consumers.
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed March 9, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on March 9, 2017