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Trade

Agricultural Commodity Trade
U.S.-India Agricultural Trade

India's foreign trade has expanded rapidly following sweeping trade policy and exchange rate reforms during 1991-93. India's total trade has expanded more than eleven-fold from $46 billion in 1990/91 (April-March fiscal year) to about $465 billion in 2009/10. During this period, exports grew 13 percent annually and imports grew 14 percent annually in U.S. dollar terms, with exports reaching $179 billion in 2009/10 and imports reaching $287 billion. Despite this expansion, India's share of world trade remains small, rising from 0.5 percent in 1990 to about 1.4 percent in 2010.

The growth of India's foreign trade since the reforms of 1991-93 has contributed to the strengthening of India's balance of payments and foreign exchange reserve positions. In 1990, prior to the reforms, India's foreign exchange reserves were $5.8 billion-the equivalent of just two and a half months of imports. In 2009/10, reserves reached more than $279 billion-equivalent to about one year of imports-providing Indian policymakers with significantly more flexibility in adjusting domestic and trade policies.

Agricultural Commodity Trade

India's agricultural trade has also expanded rapidly since the early 1990s, with agricultural imports growing 16 percent annually in U.S. dollar terms during 1990-2009 and exports rising about 12 percent annually. Agricultural imports totaled nearly $11.0 billion in 2009/10, while exports reached about $15.9 billion in the same period.  Agricultural products account for about 9 percent of India's total exports and 4 percent of total imports in 2009/10.

Edible oils and pulses (includes chickpeas, pigeon peas, lentils, dry peas, etc.), of which India emerged as a major importer during the 1990s, continue to account for the bulk of India's agricultural imports.  Other major items imported on a regular basis include raw cashew nuts (for processing), tree nuts (primarily almonds), and fruit (primarily apples). India remains a periodic importer of wheat when needed to replenish food security stocks, and sugar, when needed after cyclical downturns in domestic production.

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U.S.-India Agricultural Trade

U.S.-India two-way agricultural trade has expanded about 9 percent annually between 1990 and 2010, reaching $2.35 billion in 2010. U.S. agricultural exports to India grew 10.2 percent per year during 1990-2010, while U.S. imports from India grew 9.0 percent annually. However, India maintains a positive agricultural trade balance with the United States; U.S agricultural imports from India were $1.59 billion in 2010, while U.S. agricultural exports to India totaled $755 million.

Major regular U.S. agricultural exports to India now include edible tree nuts (primarily almonds), raw cotton, fresh fruit (primarily apples), and pulses.  Vegetable oils are a significant category of trade in some rears, depending on the competitiveness of U.S. soybean oil in the Indian market. Growth in U.S. exports to India has accelerated to 14 percent annually since 2000, with faster growth in many categories of agricultural trade, including fruit and vegetables, pulses, and vegetable oils. However, U.S. grain exports to India have declined along with overall Indian cereal import demand.

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The United States imports a wide variety of agricultural products from India, with tree nuts (primarily cashews), spices, essential oils, basmati rice, and fresh and processed fruits and vegetables accounting for most U.S. imports. Total U.S. agricultural imports from India grew about 9 percent annually between 1990 and 2010, but annual growth has slowed to about 7 percent since 2000, with most categories of U.S. imports showing slowed growth.          

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Last updated: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

For more information contact: Maurice Landes

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