India's consistent growth in exports and imports is in sync with the global trend, the global trade update published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on February 17 shows. All major trading economies saw imports and exports rise above pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter of 2021, with trade in goods increasing more strongly in the developing world than in developed countries, the update said.
The overall value of global trade reached a record level of $28.5 trillion in 2021, an increase of 25% on 2020 and 13% higher compared to 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the UNCTAD report says. In comparison, India's merchandise exports during April-January 2021-22 grew 46.73% while imports grew 62.65% on a year-on-year basis, data from the Ministry of Commerce shows.
According to the UNCTAD update, most global trade growth took hold during the first half of 2021, and continued in the second half of 2021. After a relatively slow third quarter, trade growth picked up again in Q4 2021, when the value of global trade increased by about 3% relative to Q3 2021.
Trade in goods and trade in services followed similar patterns during 2021, with stronger increases during the first half of the year. Trade growth continued to be positive for both goods and services in Q3 2021 and especially in Q4 2021, the report said.
The report also points out that during Q4 2021, trade in goods increased by almost $200 billion to reach about $5.8 trillion, a new record. During the same period, trade in services rose by about $50 billion to reach about $1.6 trillion, a value just above pre-pandemic levels. On a year-over-year basis, trade in goods strongly outperformed trade in services, with an increase of about 27% and 17% respectively, the update points out.
India, which tracks trade on a financial year basis, has seen its merchandise exports for the period April-January 2021-22 grow 46.73% to $335.88 billion from $228.92 billion during the same period the previous year. As compared to April-January 2019-20, exports in April-January 2021-22 exhibited a positive growth of 27.17%. Merchandise imports for the period April-January 2021-22 was $495.75 billion as against $304.79 billion during the period April-January 2020-21, registering a positive growth of 62.65%. Imports in April-January 2021-22 have registered a positive growth of 22.31% in comparison to April-January 2019-20.
The commerce ministry data also estimates the value of services export for April-January 2021-22 to be $209.83 billion, exhibiting a positive growth of 25.31% vis-a-vis April-January 2020-21 ($167.45 billion) and a positive growth of 17.56% vis-à-vis April-January 2019-20 ($178.49 billion). The estimated value of services imports for April-January 2021-22 $121.16 billion exhibiting a positive growth of 27.69% vis-à-vis April-January 2020-21 ($94.88 billion) and a positive growth of 12.05% vis-à-vis April-January 2019-20 ($108.13 billion).
The UNCTAD update said the positive trend for international trade in 2021 was largely the result of increases in commodity prices, subsiding pandemic restrictions and a strong recovery in demand due to economic stimulus packages. It expects international trade trends to normalise in 2022 as these trends are likely to abate.