India Balance of Trade

Surplus in India's overall trade balance seen in May,2020 driven by contraction in imports.

Published by Ministry of Commerce and Industry, RBI. Updated till April 2019 (Published on May 19th, 2019). 

Note: The seasonally adjusted series has been obtained using the Eviews census X-13 procedure X-11 method of seasonal adjustment.

Recent Data Trend

India's goods trade deficit narrowed down to a record low of USD 3.2 billion in May 2020, resulting in an overall trade surplus (goods plus services) of USD 4 billion in May 2020. This surplus is driven by import contraction rather than a rise in exports of goods and services. Export and imports of goods contracted for the third consecutive month by 51.1% YoY and 36.4% YoY in May, respectively. Import and export of services also contracted by 31.4% YoY and 15.9% YoY in May, respectively. Although an overall trade surplus is a piece of welcome news, it is also a major worry for the Indian economy as it is caused by India's imports collapsing more than the exports, reflecting the weak domestic demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Except for Iron ore, spices, drugs & pharmaceuticals, the other 26 key commodity sectors registered negative growth. The need of the hour is clearly to provide additional support to these sectors (primarily MSMEs) especially to the employment-intensive export sectors. Revival in exports sector will likely be a slow process given that some restrictions in terms of mobility of goods across the globe continues to persist.

The import bill of goods have been contracting since June 2019, except for positive growth in the month of January and February 2020, reflecting weak domestic demand even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the current crisis has led to a rise in the pace of contraction in import bills, which reached USD 22.2 billion in May. Oil imports, the biggest item in the import bill, declined by 71.8% YoY to USD 3.4 billion, whereas non-oil imports dipped by 43.13% YoY, reaching USD 18.7 billion. This fall in oil imports comes in connection with the decrease in global Brent price by 56.02% in May.

With the WTO projecting the global merchandise trade to drop by 13% in 2020 due to the pandemic, normalisation in trade activities can still take some time.

Brief Overview

The balance of trade data records the value of merchandise trade of India with its trading partners. The data on import and export of the Indian economy is published by the Ministry of Commerce on a monthly basis. Merchandise trade is a key indicator of the development of the economy. India’s largest trade partners include US, EU, and China. India has maintained an overall trade deficit since 1990 and in the past decade, the deficit has increased manifold. According to the World Trade Organization, India’s share export of merchandise goods in 2015 was 1.5%.

For more information visit the official government website

Next Release Date:  July 15, 2020

Trade Balance- Quarterly

Trade Balance- Annual

Note: Here years represent fiscal years. For example, 2016 refers to the period Apr'2016-Mar'2017 and so on.

Export by Commodities

Note: The YoY% has been calculated on absolute USD values.

Import by Commodities

Note: The YoY% has been calculated on absolute USD values.

World Commodity Prices

Note: The above data has been sourced from the World Bank Pink Sheet which provides monthly data on the prices of commodities. To know more about this, visit the official website.