Occupies 11th slot among exporters, 13th among importers

Different picture

World merchandise trade by 30 leading exporters and importers in 2007 shows that only India and the Czech Republic gain two positions in the rankings.

G. Srinivasan

New Delhi, April 17

Even as the Reserve Bank of India reckons that India’s services exports are roughly two times more than its services imports, the latest figures from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) shows that the gap between these two is too close to derive any big comfort, particularly when the trade deficit on the merchandise side has become mammoth.

In its preliminary assessment of global trade trends released in Geneva today, the WTO said that “India is estimated to have one of the strongest import expansion rates for commercial services in Asia, while its services exports rose less than the global average for the first time since 1996.”

WTO figures show that in 2007, India has occupied 11th slot among 30 leading exporters of commercial services at $86 billion, accounting for 2.7 per cent of share in global trade in such services. But among the 30 services importers, India occupies the 13th slot at $78 billion, accounting for 2.6 per cent in global trade in services imports.

The annual percentage change in services exports in 2007 was 15 per cent against the world average of 18 per cent growth, while in the case of services imports India’s annual percentage change in 2007 was 24 per cent.

Export-import gap

The gap between services exports and imports in 2007 was $8 billion in surplus. This needs to be seen against the fact that US service exports rose by 14 per cent and imports by 9 per cent, contributing to a rise in the US trade surplus in commercial services of a colossal $120 billion.

Trade policy analysts contend that as India is keeping its fingers crossed in world trade talks liberalisation on services trade, it must perforce reckon the changing dynamics in the trade performances of the leading commercial services exporters and importers and accordingly tailor its offer to wrest the best out of the bargain in areas such as commercial presence and movement of natural persons as service providers.

In contrast to India’s uneven performance in services trade, services exports and imports rose by more than 20 per cent in China, Malaysia and Australia.

However, world merchandise trade by leading exporters and importers in 2007 show a different picture with only India and the Czech Republic gaining two positions in the rankings. Thus, among 30 leading exporters in 2007, India now stands at 26th position, overtaking Australia and Norway. India’s export value in 2007 at $145 billion was ahead of Australia at $141 billion by Australia and $139 billion by Norway.

On the import front, India now ranks 18th among 30 countries at $217 billion, followed by Turkey at $170 billion and Australia at $165 billion.

China fares well

Even as India has gained some brownie points on the merchandise front, China has moved ahead of the US to number two and Belgium replacing Canada as number nine among the top ten exporters.

China further advanced its pre-eminence among Asian traders in 2007. For the first time, its trade (exports plus imports) surpassed the combined trade of Japan and the Republic of Korea, the second and third largest merchandise traders in Asia.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 18, 2008)
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