Recent trends in India’s Foreign Trade11th February 2020
- Huge Growth in the Value of Trade
Table 7.1 reveals that the total value of foreign trade which was Rs. 1,972 crore in 1950-51, gradually increased to Rs. 2,835 crore in 1960-61 and then to Rs. 3,487 crore in 1965-66. After that the value of trade increased at a quicker pace from Rs. 3,169 crore in 1970-71 to Rs. 9,301 crore in 1975.-76 and then rose significantly to Rs. 19,260 crore in 1980- 81.
Thereafter, the total value of trade rose significantly to Rs. 30,553 crore in 1985-86 to Rs. 63,097 crore in 1989-90 and to Rs. 91,893 crore in 1991-92 and then to Rs. 1,17,063 crore in 1992-93 and finally to Rs. 22.15,191 crore in 2008-09.
Thus during the period from 1950-51 to 1970-71 total value of trade rose by only 60.9 percent. Again during the period 1970-71 to 1980-81, total value of foreign trade rose significantly by 597 per cent, i.e., by nearly 6 times. But during the period 1980-81 to 1990-91, total value of trade rose by 293.3 per cent, i.e., by nearly 4 times. In 2008-09 the value of trade recorded an increase of 32.79 per cent over the previous year.
- Higher Growth of Imports
Another peculiarity that can be seen from this trend is that there has been consequential higher growth in respect of imports of the country since 1951. Thus the total value of imports which was Rs. 1,025 crore in 1950-51 gradually rose to Rs. 1,634 crore in 1970- 71, i.e., by only 59 per cent. Since then the value of imports started to rise at a very faster pace and thus reached the level of Rs. 12,549 crore in 1980-81 and then to Rs. 43,193 crore in 1990-91 showing an increase of 667 per cent and 244 per cent during the last two decades respectively.
The factors which were largely responsible for this phenomenal increase in imports include: huge import of industrial inputs, regular import of food grains under P.L. 480 rising anti-inflationary imports, liberal imports of non-essential items, periodic hike on oil prices and the initiation of liberal import policy by the government during 1985-86 to 1991-92. In 2008-09, the value of imports rose significantly to Rs. 13,74,436 crore, showing a growth rate of 33.77 per cent over the previous year.
- Inadequate Growth of Exports
Another very peculiar situation that the country has been facing is a very slow growth in respect of its exports. In the initial period, total value of exports in India rose marginally from Rs. 947 crore in 1950-51 to Rs. 1,535 crore in 1970-71, showing an increase of only 62 per cent. But since then the growth of exports in the country could not keep pace with the growth in imports.
Total value of exports rose gradually to Rs. 6,711 crore in 1980-81 showing an increase of 337 per cent over 1970-71 and then to Rs. 32,553 crore in 1990-91, showing an increase of 385 per cent over the value of 1980-81. In 1993-94, the value of exports rose considerably to Rs. 69,751 crore showing a growth of 29.9 per cent over the previous year.
In 2008-2009, the value of exports rose to Rs. 8,40,755 crore showing a growth rate of 28.2 per cent over the previous year. Again in 2009-2010 (Apr.-Jan.) the value of exports stood at Rs. 3,72,096 crore showing a negative growth of 19.9 per cent over the previous year. Due to the introduction of various export promotion measures since the devaluation of rupee in 1966, the value of Indian exports recorded some increase but this increase in exports was totally inadequate considering the sizeable growth in the value of imports.
This has resulted in a persistent and widening trade deficit in the country. The factors which were mostly responsible for this low growth of exports include un-favourable terms of trade for Indian primary (agro-based) goods, inadequate export surplus, adoption of the policy of protectionism by developed countries and long period of business recession in developed country in recent years.
Reasons of Slow Export growth
Survey Findings. Recently a survey conducted by the Delhi School of Business on 150 export organizations revealed that the main reasons for the slow growth of exports in India were that 65 per cent of the export establishments were not using ITPO, MMTC and other such institutions.
Moreover, a majority of the establishments were not inclined to make use of training and education in international marketing. Clearly, lack of adequate professionally trained manpower in export organizations is one of the important reasons for slow growth of exports in the country and failure to compete effectively in global markets.
Some of the important factors which were found responsible for reduction in growth of exports from 20 per cent to a mere four per cent during the last two years (1996-98) were Government policies, quality of production, tariffs, quality control and management, institutional finance, banks, export procedures and participation in trade fairs.
It was also observed that as many as 47 per cent of the exporters would not like to avail of the services of personnel trained in export and would manage their operations through family members or others not professionally trained. The study also highlighted an attitudinal disinclination towards professionalism. Thereby, as many as 56 per cent of the respondents were not inclined to sponsor a candidate for training international marketing.
As per this survey, the most dominant constraints and problems faced by the exporters were lack of export marketing information, inadequate infrastructural facilities, procedural complications, monetary loss due to low export prices and delay in clearance in ports. Therefore, immediate improvement or upgrading was required in port handling facilities, road transportation, rail transport and power sectors.
Regarding shipments, the biggest constraints were high incidence of warehousing cost, delay in customs clearance, inadequate warehousing facilities, low frequency of sailing, high incidence of port expenses and inadequate shipping space.
It is quite disturbing to note that India’s share in world trade was 1.78 per cent in 1950 and in-spite of all the efforts made it has come down to 0.61 per cent in 1994. Immediately after liberalization, there were positive signs up to 1995 but in 1996 and 1997 there had been a reversal of the trend. But during the current period, i.e., in 2001-02 and 2002-03, the export has recorded a growth rate of 19.7 per cent respectively. In-spite of the constraints and inadequacies faced by the exporters it was heartening to note that the exporting community, as observed by the survey, was optimistic about the future scenario.
- Mounting Trade Deficit: Deficit in the Balance of Trade
As a result of higher growth of imports and slow growth of exports the country has been experiencing a mounting trade deficit since 1980-81. During the last 45 years period, the country has recorded a small surplus in its trade only in two years (viz., in 1972-73 and in 1976-77).
Due to adverse balance of trade situation, the extent of trade deficit in India gradually rose from Rs. 78 crore in 1950-51 to Rs. 949 crores in 1965-66. Recording a decline to Rs. 99 crore in 1970-71, the extent of trade deficit rose from Rs. 1,229 crore in 1975-76 to Rs. 5,838 crore in 1980-81 and then considerably to Rs. 10,640 crores in 1990-91. But after the introduction of some changes in the trade policy and due to considerable import compression the extent of trade deficit declined remarkably to Rs. 3,809 crore in 1991-92.
Accordingly, the annual average deficit in balance of trade which was Rs. 108 cu.re during the First Plan gradually rose to Rs 747 crore during the Third Plan. But due to import compression and boosting exports, the annual average trade deficit declined to Rs. 167 crore during the Fourth Plan. But since then the annual average deficit in balance of trade rose significantly from Rs. 810 crore during the Fifth Plan to Rs. 5,716 crore during the Sixth Plan and then to Rs. 7,720 crore during the Seventh Plan.
In 1992- 93 the extent of trade deficit again rose to Rs. 9,687 crore due to huge increase in import. But during 1993-94, the extent of trade deficit declined to Rs. 3,350 crore due to considerable increase in exports. But during 2008-2009, the extent of trade deficit again rose to Rs. 5,33,681 crore. Again during 2009- 2010, the extent of trade deficit further rose to Rs. 2,31,110 crore (April-Sept.).