Composition of trade means a study of the goods and services of imports and exports of a country. In other words, it tells about the commodities of imports and the commodities of exports of a country. Therefore it indicates the structure and level of economic development of a country. Developing countries export raw materials, agricultural products and intermediate goods; developed countries export finished goods, machines, equipments and technique.
Direction of trade means a study of the countries to whom the exports are made and from whom the imports are made.
Imports of India may be divided into three parts namely capital goods, raw materials and consumer goods.
Capital goods include metals, machines and equipments, appliances and transport equipments, and means of communications. These goods are essential for industrial development of the country. Imports of these goods amounted to Rs.356 crore in 1960-61 which increased to Rs.26, 532 crore in 1997-98.
It includes the imports of cotton, jute, fertilizer, chemicals, crude oil etc. A number of raw materials and intermediate goods have to be imported during the process of economic development. If amounted to Rs.527 crore in 1960-61 which increased to Rs.13, 966 crore in 1985-86. Petroleum products include crude oil, petrol and lubricating oil. Imports of these products have ever been increasing. In 1960-61, imports of these products amounted to Rs.69 crore which increased to Rs.30, 538 crore in 1997-98. Import of petroleum products constitutes about 23 percent of our total imports. Fertilizers are an important input for agriculture. Chemical products are an important input for industrial development. The import of these products is continuously increasing in India. In 1960-61 import of these items amounted to Rs.88 crore only which increased to Rs.3755 crore in 1997-98.
It includes the import of food grains, electrical goods, medicines, paper etc., India faced an acute shortage of food grains till the end of Third Five Year Plan. As a result, India had to import food grains in large quantities. Import of food grains in 1960-61 was 3748 thousand tonnes (Rs.181 crore). In 1997-98 it was 1399 thousand tones. Now India has achieved self-reliance in food production.
Sources of imports of India have undergone several important changes during the planning period. Some important facts are as follows:
At the beginning of economic planning, we were importing from selected countries only. Now the picture has changed. We import different goods and services from different countries of the world. At present we get our imports from almost all the countries of the world. For the purchase of machines and equipments, we depend mainly on OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries and East European countries. For the supply of food grains and petroleum products, we depend on OPEC (Oil Producing and Exporting Countries) countries. The OECD countries supply largest part of our imports. In 1997-98 out of the total imports of Rs.1,51,553 crore, the imports of Rs.75,593 crore were made (49.9%) from these countries. Other important suppliers of our imports are USA, Belgium, Germany, Japan and Britain.
Exports of India may be divided into two parts I) Exports of traditional items and ii) Exports of non-traditional items.
It includes the exports of tea, coffee, jute, jute products, iron ore, species, animal skin, cotton, fish, fish products, mineral products etc. At the beginning of the planning era, their items contributed about 80 percent of out total exports. Gradually, the contribution of these items is declining and that of non-traditional items is increasing. At present the contribution of traditional items is about 18.8% in our total exports.
It includes the export of sugar, engineering goods, chemicals, iron and steel electrical goods, leather products, gems and jewellery. There is a significant change in the pattern of exports of India during recent years. India has started to export a number of non-traditional items to a number of countries of the world. Contribution of these items is gradually increasing in total exports of India and shows a declining trend during some years also. Some facts to illustrate the changes are given below:
Agriculture and allied products which constituted 20.4 percent of total exports in 1996-97, decreased to 18.8 percent in 1999-2000. ii) Ores and minerals which constituted 3.5 percent of total exports in 1996-97, decreased to 3 percent in 1999-2000. iii) Manufactured good which contributed 73.4 percent of total exports in 1996-97, increased to 75.7 percent in 1999-2000. iv) Crude and petroleum products constituted 1.4 percent of total exports in 1996-97 but decreased to 1.0 percent in 1999-2000. v) With regard to other items of exports which constituted 1.2 percent in 1996-97 increased to 1.3 percent in 1999-2000.
During the planning era, several important charges have taken place in the destination of exports of India. At present, we deal with about 180
countries including many developed countries. Our major exports are directed towards the following countries:
OECD countries (Belgium, France Germany, U.K. North America, Canada, USA, Australia and Japan). Our exports which constituted percent of the total exports in 1990-91 increased to 55.7 percent in 1999-2000.
OPEC countries (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia etc.). Our exports which constituted 5.6 percent of the total exports in 1990-91 increased to 10.0 percent in 1999-2000.
Eastern Europe (GDR, Romania, Russia etc.). Our exports which constituted 17.9 percent in 1990-91 decreased to 3.1 percent in 1999-2000.
Other LDC's (Africa, Asia, Latin America). Our exports
constitute 16.8 per cent in 1990-91, increased to 28.2 percent in 1999-2000.
To sum up, during the last five decades, significant changes have been observed in the volume, composition and direction of India's trade. Most of these changes have been in consonance with the development needs of the economy.