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$48 million worth of exports every hour: What propelled India’s export growth and how to keep going

India achieved its ambitious target of $400 billion (an estimated Rs 30.4 lakh crore) in exports for the first time nine days ahead of the end of the fiscal year in March. Compared to a pre-pandemic five-year average of $300 billion, the final net on 31 March, according to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, stood at $417.8 billion, which translates to a rough $48 million worth of exports every hour.

While March saw India exceeding $40 billion for the first time in monthly merchandise, the momentum continues in the new fiscal year with April registering a 24.22 per cent year-on-year growth led by petroleum products, electronic goods, and chemicals.

What are the top commodities that India exported?

Data available till February 2022 reveal that the three broad commodity groups—engineering goods, petroleum products and gems and jewellery, all of which are labour intensive—account for more than two-thirds of increase in exports over the last year.

What led to this exports surge?

India’s exports benefited majorly from the surge in global growth after two years of repressed demand owing to the pandemic. According to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), global trade reached a record level of about $28.5 trillion in 2021. While this is an increase of about 25 per cent vis-à-vis 2020, India performed better with a 35 per cent increase.

Several PLI schemes—in diverse sectors, such as mobile manufacturing, electronic and textile products, automobile, and auto components—have boosted domestic manufacturing and exports by helping India gain competitiveness in the global markets. While these incentives take a few years to show their full effect, early signs of their positive impact are already visible. As per data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, electronic exports spiked from $6,600 million in 2013–2014 to $12,400 million in 2021–22 with mobile phones, IT hardware (laptops, tablets), consumer electronics (TV and audio), industrial electronics and auto electronics being the key exports in the sector. We now export mobile phones as opposed to importing such devices before. This remarkable 88 per cent jump in electronic goods exports can be traced to the sectoral PLI schemes and the National Policy on Electronics (2019).


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