Foreign trade in India includes all imports and exports to and from India. At the level of Central Government it is administered by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Foreign trade accounted for 48.8% of India’s GDP in 2015.
There are records throughout history of India’s trade with foreign countries. Even before independence, the Government of India maintained semi-autonomous diplomatic relations. It had colonies (such as the Aden Settlement), who sent and received full missions, and was a founder member of both the League of Nations and the United Nations. After India gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, it soon joined the Commonwealth of Nations and strongly supported independence movements in other colonies, like the Indonesian National Revolution. The partition and various territorial disputes, particularly that over Kashmir, would strain its relations with Pakistan for years to come. During the Cold War, India adopted a foreign policy of not aligning itself with any major power bloc. However, India developed close ties with the Soviet Union and received extensive military support from it.
Exports and imports
India exports approximately 7500 commodities to about 190 countries, and imports around 6000 commodities from 140 countries. India exported US$318.2 billion and imported $462.9 billion worth of commodities in 2014.
The Government of India’s Economic Survey 2017-18 noted that five states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana — accounted for 70% of India’s total exports. It was the first time that the survey included international export data for states. The survey found a high correlation between a state’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) per capita and its share of total exports. With a high GSDP per capita but low export share, Kerala was the only major outlier because the state’s GSDP per capita was heavily influenced by remittances.
The survey also found that the largest firms in India contributed to a smaller percentage of exports when compared to countries like Brazil, Germany, Mexico, and the United States. The top 1% of India’s companies accounted for 38% of total exports.