India’s Strategic Push to Boost Exports in Sub-Saharan Africa and Gulf Nations

The Indian Commerce Ministry is actively working to ease trade and enhance exports in sub-Saharan Africa and Gulf nations. This initiative focuses on resolving non-tariff barriers and expanding market access for Indian products in countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Gulf countries. In the fiscal year 2022-23, India’s major trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa included South Africa (total trade USD 18.9 billion, exports USD 8.5 billion), Nigeria (USD 11.85 billion, exports USD 5.15 billion), Togo (USD 6.6 billion, exports USD 6 billion), and Tanzania (USD 6.5 billion, exports USD 3.93 billion), among others. Meetings have been held with Indian missions in these countries to address economic relations, export performance, and non-tariff barriers impacting bilateral trade. Additionally, the ministry has held similar discussions with Indian Missions in GCC countries, which include Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is India’s largest trading bloc, with significant bilateral trade volumes in 2022-23, such as USD 52.76 billion with Saudi Arabia and USD 84.8 billion with the UAE.

The Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) report released in August emphasizes the importance of India addressing non-tariff barriers faced by domestic exporters to achieve its goal of one trillion dollar outbound shipment for goods by 2030. Some Indian exports facing high barriers include ceramic tiles in Egypt and microbiological reagents in Saudi Arabia. Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) often aim to protect human, animal, or plant health and the environment and include technical measures like regulations, standards, and certification, as well as non-technical measures such as quotas and import licensing. When these measures become arbitrary and lack scientific justification, they create trade barriers known as Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).

The ministry has also encouraged exporters to focus on key sectors like food, electronics, and engineering and to participate in global fairs and exhibitions to boost exports. Despite a global trade challenge, India’s merchandise exports rose 6.21% to USD 33.57 billion in October 2023, while imports increased 12.3% to USD 65.03 billion, driven partly by a surge in gold imports. For the April-October 2023 period, exports contracted 7% to USD 244.89 billion, and imports fell 8.95% to USD 391.96 billion​​.



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