India turned a net exporter of chemicals and related products for the first time in at least a decade in FY20, according to the latest commerce ministry data.
While these are still early days to forecast a trend, the data come as a relief at a time when the country is battling the Covid-19 pandemic and the government is seeking self-sufficiency in this critical segment, especially in pharmaceuticals.
While exports of such products — including drug formulations, bulk drugs and drug intermediates, organic chemicals, agro chemicals and fertilisers — rose 3% year-on-year to $45 billion in FY20, imports stood at $44.3 billion, down 7.3%. In contrast, India’s overall goods exports contracted by 5.1% in FY20, while its imports shrank by 7.8%.
The chemical and related products are clubbed together in 15 broad categories.
The data lend some credence to the claim that with right policy interventions, India’s chemicals sector can be a sustained driver of its merchandise exports.
Importantly, over the past decade through FY20, exports of the chemicals and related products more than doubled from $20.8 billion in FY11 to $45 billion last fiscal, outperforming the overall goods exports that rose from $250 billion to just $313 billion during this period. Consequently, the share of the chemicals segment in the country’s merchandise exports, too, jumped from 8.3% in FY11 to 14.4% in FY20, having emerged as a key driver of export growth. Such imports rose up from $29.5 billion to $44.3 billion in the past decade.