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India’s record exports of $422 billion in FY22 came on the back of stellar performance of key segments, such as petroleum products, chemicals, agriculture, base metals, electronics and gems & jewellery and textiles and garments, suggesting a broad-based resurgence after a Covid-induced slide in the previous fiscal.

While a spike in global crude oil prices in FY22 boosted the export value of petroleum products by as much as 161% from a year before to $67 billion, latest disaggregated official data showed segments like agriculture and chemicals, including pharmaceuticals, witnessed record shipments of $50 billion and $56.3 billion, respectively, despite unfavourable base effect (these two segments had witnessed double-digit growth in FY21, defying the Covid impact).

Farm exports were driven by a 273% surge in wheat exports to $2.1 billion, 27% rise in non-basmati shipments to $6.1 billion, showed the commerce ministry data. The chemicals segment recorded a 17% rise on higher shipments of agro, inorganic and organic chemicals, although bulk drugs and formulations exports barely grew, partly due to export curbs on select items.

Importantly, buoyed by the performance of the steel and aluminium sectors, exports of base metals surged 71% in the last fiscal to an all-time high of $47.2 billion. Exports of iron, steel and related products jumped 69% to $31.7 billion in FY22, while those of aluminium climbed 82% to $10.6 billion. Even copper exports shot up by 68% to $2.4 billion.

Similarly, following a 28% slump in FY21, exports of gems and jewellery rebounded sharply in the last fiscal with a 50% jump to $39 billion. Exporters say the prospects of the gems and jewellery segment look bright in the current fiscal as well in the wake of India’s free trade agreement with a key market like the UAE.

Electronics exports jumped 41% to a record $15 billion in FY22, supported by a 66% jump in despatches of telecom instruments, mainly mobile phones, to $7.7 billion. Exports of textiles, garment and allied products (including cotton) jumped 41% to $42.9 billion in FY22.

India’s merchandise exports exceeded the ambitious target of $400 billion for FY22 nine days before the fiscal year was to end, surpassing the previous high by a wide margin. The exports finally hit $422 billion when the fiscal year came to an end, having jumped 46%, albeit aided by a conducive base (outbound shipments had contracted by close to 7% in FY21).

The top five export destinations were the US, the UAE, China, Bangladesh, and the Netherlands. Interestingly, the UAE regained its position as the second-largest export destination for India after losing out to China in FY21.

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Author: Howard Caldwell