Indian commerce minister Piyush Goyal told attendees at an industry event on Tuesday that his country had surpassed $740 billion in goods and services exports, a record significantly higher than the $500 billion in exports that India documented between 2020 and 2021. India’s Economic Times noted that India documented $676 billion in exports in the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Goyal did not specify the time frame in which India reportedly hit the $750 billion milestone but predicted that the country would reach the end of 2023 with over $760 billion in exports, suggesting the statistic covered the fiscal year so far. India has experienced a dramatic surge in economic activity in the post-pandemic era, particularly in domestic technology manufacturing and processing of fossil fuels. New Delhi has capitalized on some apprehension in the tech sector caused by communist China’s anti-coronavirus lockdowns – and the ensuing chaos, such as the riot at the world’s largest iPhone factory in November in Zhengzhou – as well as boosting its oil refining capacity, and thus its refined oil product sales, through purchases of cheap Russian crude. “I can say with great pride, happiness, and thanks to all your efforts that India has crossed in its 75th year of independence, as we speak today, USD 750 billion of exports,” Goyal said on Tuesday, multiple Indian outlets reported. “There’s obviously much faster growth in services, but growth in both (merchandise and services exports) is good ... Probably we will end the year with about USD 760 bln (in exports), if not more.” Goyal credited “a record run of FDI [foreign direct investment] over the last decade” with aiding India’s manufacturing and services sector. “Out of $32 trillion international trade, our share is miniscule therefore the delta of possibilities is huge,” the Indian outlet Mint quoted Goyal as saying. “The kind of new ideas and new products that India has developed in the last few years, and our handling of the [Wuhan coronavirus] pandemic are all reflective of the new spirit that Bharat [an alternative name for India] has.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated his country on Wednesday, sharing Goyal’s announcement on social media. “This is the spirit which will make India Aatmanirbhar [self-reliant] in the times to come,” he wrote. Compliments to the people of India for this feat. This is the spirit which will make India Aatmanirbhar in the times to come. https://t.co/6ymYTw4t3C — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 29, 2023 The nature of the exports indicates that India is seeking a place in the community of countries that produce more expensive goods. India notably banned exporting wheat – despite being the world’s second-largest producer – in May in response to widespread shortages exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This week, the Food Corporation of India confirmed that the country did not intend to rescind the ban on shipping wheat out of the country anytime soon to avoid potential shortages at home. “No relaxation in the ban until India completes its wheat procurement this season, which has already started,” Food Corporation of India Managing Director Ashok K Meena said. What India lost in wheat exports it gained in iPhone sales. According to the Times of India, the number of iPhones made in India sold in 2022 increased by 65 percent over the total in 2021. By price, the phones represented a 162-percent increase in value from those sold the year before. “The contribution of exports in ‘Made in India’ smartphone shipments reached the highest ever in 2022 both in volume (20%) and value terms (30%),” the Times reported. “[I]ncreasing exports from Apple, Samsung and other [companies] drove the locally manufactured shipments in 2022 and somewhat offset the impact of the local demand decline.” While iPhone exports increased, Indian-made smartphone shipments generally declined by three percent year-on-year in 2022.
The number of iPhones and other Apple products manufactured in the country is expected to increase prominently in 2023, however, largely as a product of Foxconn, one of Apple’s largest suppliers, seeking deals with the Indian government. Foxconn began seeking an exit from China after the Zhengzhou debacle, in which the government attempted to force workers to live in the factory as part of a coronavirus lockdown. Thousands of terrified workers responded by running away into neighboring woods or rioting, leaving very few productive workers. New workers offered bonuses to replace those who fled soon began complaining that their bonuses never came, leading to more chaos. In November, the Zhengzhou factory was operating at about 20 percent of its normal production ability. In December, reports surfaced that Foxconn had moved a $500 million investment into its Indian subsidiary. This month, Foxconn announced that, after a “warm meeting” with Modi, its officials had agreed to a record deal to manufacture electronics in India, including but not limited to the iPhone. Outside of technology, India has been increasing its supply of refined oil products, likely through a boom in purchases of Russian oil. India, China, Saudi Arabia, and other non-Western states have spent much of the past year capitalizing on Western sanctions dramatically lowering the prices of Russian fossil fuels. Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as both China and India’s top oil supplier by the beginning of this year. While not a major source of crude oil, India has some of the world’s largest refining capacity and has greatly increased shipments to the United States, United Kingdom, and other Western countries. Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.
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