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Top 60 Import Export Business Ideas for 2024

India has a dynamic trading ecosystem, a diversified economy, and a key strategic location. As a result, there are more options available to business people wishing to enter the import-export industry in the nation. A wide range of products and services are available for profit exchange on a global scale. It includes conventional commodities specialised goods and cutting-edge technologies. If you’re considering starting an import-export business, here is a curated list of the best import-export business ideas to explore.

Starting an import and export business needs experience and good planning. Understanding the global market demand and trends is critical to the success of this business. In addition, you need to build a network of trusted vendors and suppliers across countries.

60 Import Export Business Ideas

#1. Organic Food Products

The organic food sector in India has witnessed significant growth in recent years. It is mainly driven by increasing awareness of health and environmental sustainability. Exporting organic food products such as grains, pulses, spices, tea, coffee, and fruits presents lucrative opportunities for Indian exporters.

#2. Handicrafts and Artifacts

India boasts a rich cultural heritage and skilled artisan communities produce a wide range of handicrafts, artefacts, and traditional artworks that are cherished worldwide. You can export handcrafted items such as textiles, pottery, jewellery, home décor, and sculptures to showcase India’s artistic craftsmanship and cultural diversity to international markets

#3. Ayurvedic and Herbal Products

India’s ancient Ayurvedic tradition and abundant herbal resources make it a leading exporter of Ayurvedic medicines, herbal supplements, skincare products, and essential oils. Exporting Ayurvedic and herbal products to global markets capitalizes on the growing demand for natural and holistic wellness solutions.

#4. Agrochemical

Our country consumes a huge amount of agrochemicals throughout the year. The list includes a wide range of products. You can import the items in bulk and distribute them to local retailers. However, the price is a major deciding factor in this business.

#5. Aluminium Export

Aluminium and related products have the potential to both export and import in India. However, the business demands specific licenses and permissions from different Govt authorities. In some cases, you may need to obtain permission from the Pollution Control Board.

#6. Vegetable Export

India’s diverse climate and fertile land make it an ideal to start a vegetable export business. From potatoes and onions to tomatoes, carrots, and leafy greens, Indian vegetables are in high demand for their quality and freshness. Establishing partnerships with local farmers and investing in modern farming techniques can ensure a steady supply of high-quality vegetables for export, catering to the growing global demand for fresh produce.

#7. Chemical Export

India is a major producer and exporter of chemicals, including industrial chemicals, speciality chemicals, and pharmaceutical intermediates. With a robust chemical industry and skilled workforce, exporting chemicals to various industries worldwide presents lucrative opportunities for Indian exporters. Adhering to international quality standards, ensuring proper handling and storage of chemicals, and complying with regulatory requirements are essential for success in the chemical export business.

#8. Medicinal Export Business

India’s rich biodiversity and ancient medicinal traditions make it a leading exporter of herbal medicines, Ayurvedic products, and traditional medicinal herbs. Exporting medicinal products to global markets requires adherence to stringent quality standards, certification processes, and compliance with international regulations.

#9. Spices and Condiments

India is renowned for its diverse range of spices and condiments. Hence, it makes a prime destination for exporting spices like turmeric, cardamom, cumin, and pepper to international markets.

#10. Automotive Parts and Components

India has a strong manufacturing base. You can tap this advantage by exporting automotive parts, components, and accessories to automobile markets worldwide.

#11. Gemstones and Jewelry Export

The gemstone industry in India produces exquisite gemstones, diamonds, and jewellery. These are highly prized in global markets. Hence it offers lucrative export opportunities for gem traders and jewellery manufacturers.

#12. Bio-chemicals

The biochemical import trade sector contributes significantly to the overall GDP percentage in India. This segment includes a wide range of products. However, you have to find out the specific market for the specific items.

#13. Cereals and Pulses Export

The important cereals are – wheat, paddy, sorghum, millet (Bajra), barley and maize, etc. India is not only the largest producer of cereal as well as the largest exporter of cereal products in the world. India’s export of cereals stood at Rs. 40,433.24 crores during the year 2015-16.

#14. Coffee Export

India is the third-largest producer and exporter of coffee in Asia and the sixth-largest producer and fifth-largest exporter of coffee in the world. The country accounts for 4.05% of global coffee production. Generally, Italy, Russia, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Slovenia, Jordan, Australia, Greece, and Poland are the leading importers of Indian coffee.

#15. Copper Export

Copper is an element, reddish-brown in colour, having atomic number 29 and about the scientific symbol ‘Cu’. The largest copper-importing countries of the world include Spain, China, Germany, and the Philippines.

#16. Cotton Yarn and Fabric

India has the world’s second-largest spinning capacity, commanding a share of the global Cotton Yarn market. India produces a comprehensive range of yarns for every conveyable end-use, – non-spun or open-end; combed or carded, basic, compact, mélange or fancy. Countries like the USA, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, etc. are the major importing countries.

#17. Diamond Import

Our country imports rough diamonds and exports cut and finished diamonds. India is a global diamond polishing hub where 14 out of every 15 rough diamonds in the world are polished. Generally, the US and European markets are the major destinations of finished diamonds..

#18. Electronic Component

India imports a wide range of electronic components throughout the year. Generally, it includes both end-consumer items and industrial items. However, the business demands moderate capital investment and a proper marketing strategy.

#19. Electronic Toys

Generally, there are selling toys each year in the world, such as loom bands during 2013-2014, kinetic sand, and balancing scooters during 2014-2015. If you can discover the potential of these products and import them earlier than your competitors, then you will already make a lot of money when other people start to sell.

#20. Essential Oils

Essential oils represent another value-added product that can inject some life into the region’s flagging agricultural sector. By definition, essential oil is any concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds obtained from plants. Such oils are generally extracted by distillation.

#21. Fertilizer

Import of urea in the country is restricted and permitted through three State Trading Enterprises i.e. MMTC Limited, State Trading Corporation of India Limited, and Indian Potash Limited. Import of all other fertilizers is free and importers are importing these fertilizers under Open General License (OGL) as per their requirements.

#22. Flower Export

The government of India has identified floriculture as a sunrise industry and accorded it 100% export-oriented status. Owing to the steady increase in demand for flowers, floriculture has become one of the important Commercial trades in Agriculture. Floriculture products mainly consist of cut flowers, pot plants, cut foliage, seed bulbs, tubers, rooted cuttings, and dried flowers or leaves.

#23. Glass and Glassware

In importing glass and glassware products, the most important is deciding on Harmonized System codes (Harmonized Tariff System- HTS) for Glass Glassware are mentioned which help you in exporting and importing the glass items.

#24. Guar Gum

Guar gum is an extract of the guar bean, which acts as a food and water store. About 90% of guar gum processed in India is exported. There are various grades of Guar gums pure or derivative. Its ability to suspend solids, bind water by hydrogen bonding, control the viscosity of aqueous solutions, and form strong tough films have accounted for its rapid growth and use in various industries.

#25. IoT

I.O.T. stands for the Internet of Things. It can provide significant support to numerous areas and sectors. These are transport, wellness, healthcare, buildings, homes, factories, agriculture, livestock, electric grids, water supply networks, and of course individual consumers.

#26. Iron and Steel Export

Given rising imports, the Government had earlier raised import duty on most steel items twice, each time by 2.5%, and imposed a gamut of measures including anti-dumping and safeguard duties on a host of applicable iron and steel items.

In a further move to curb steel imports, the Indian government banned the production and sale of steel products that do not meet the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) approval and checked the sale of defective and sub-standard stainless steel products. however, iron & steel are freely importable as per the extant policy.

#27. Jewellery

For jewellery export, you can take the help of GJEPC. The GJEPC is the apex body of the gems & jewellery industry and today it represents almost 6,000 exporters in the sector.

With headquarters in Mumbai, the GJEPC has Regional Offices in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Surat, and Jaipur, all of which are major centres for the industry. It thus has a wide reach and can have a closer interaction with members to serve them in a direct and more meaningful manner.

#28. Leather Items

The country ranked first among major livestock-holding nations in the world and thus has a rich endowment of raw materials in terms of the cattle population. It can cater to 10% of the global leather requirement. Today, the sector is amongst the top 8 export earners for the country and employs around 2.5 million people. A major part (about 60-65%) of the production is in the small / cottage sector.

#29. Machinery

The small-scale manufacturing sector is the backbone of the Indian economy. And the machine is the most important part of any manufacturing business. You can start importing machine and machinery parts from other countries to supply domestic entrepreneurs.

#30. Made-up Textile Articles

Made-up textile articles include a wide range of products. The list includes NESOI, needlecraft sets, worn clothing, Rags, etc. However, you have to find out the specific HS code for the items.  These codes help exporters and importers all over the world to know the product classification code named differently in each country like Schedule B, ITC, HS, HTS, Tariff Code, etc.

#31. Processed Meat

India exports about 13,43,607 tons of meat, mostly buffalo meat. Indian buffalo meat is witnessing strong demand in international markets due to its lean character and near-organic nature. The recent trend in India is to establish large abattoirs-cum-meat processing plants with the latest technology.

#32. Milk and Milk Products

India now has indisputably the world’s biggest dairy industry. The dairy sector in India has shown remarkable development in the past decade and India has now become one of the largest producers of milk and value-added milk products in the world.

#33. Mineral Fuels and Waxes

Different countries have their requirements to import waxes, oils, mineral fuels, and bituminous substances. However, most of the procedures and formalities are the same in all countries. The process and formalities to import waxes, oils, mineral fuels, and bituminous substances may differ from one another and from country to country.

Also, different procedures and formalities to import each item might be different under the import of waxes, oils, mineral fuels, and bituminous substances.

#34. Natural Rubber

The export of rubber is regulated through Registration Cum Membership Certificate (RCMC) issued by Rubber Board. As per the EXIM policy, any person applying for a license/certificate to import-export or any other benefit or concessions under the Import Export Policy is required to furnish an RCMC granted by the Export Promotion Councils. In the case of Natural Rubber, the Rubber Board has the authority to issue RCMC.

#35. Oil Seeds

In India, you can take the benefits of the Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEPC) for the oilseed export business. Besides focusing on exports, the Council also works towards strengthening the domestic supply chain by encouraging farmers, sellers, processors, surveyors, and exporters to enhance the quality of oilseeds in India.

#36. Organic Chemical

The organic chemical sector includes a wide range of products. Our country imports a substantial quantity of organic chemicals for industrial purposes. Some of the most important chemicals are Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, Cyclic hydrocarbons, Acyclic alcohols, caustic soda, etc.

#37. Pearl Export

You must follow Conditions for Hazardous Waste management, handling, and Transboundary movement rules while trading pearls. The demand for fresh and cultured pearls is increasing very fast in the international market. Therefore, starting a pearl import-export business is a lucrative opportunity for entrepreneurs.

#38. Petroleum Product

This industry demands substantial capital investment. Additionally, revenue-wise this is a lucrative segment too. Some of the most important items are LPG, Kerosene, Gas Oil, Gasoline, Low Sulphur Fuel oil, etc.

#39. Pharmaceutical Products Exports

In India, the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (PHARMEXCIL) facilitates the international trade of pharmaceutical products. Apart from RCMC, you can avail several benefits from the council. The council facilitates trade delegations/Buyer-Seller Meetings abroad. Additionally, it organizes periodical Seminars/Interactive meetings on export-related issues

#40. Plastic Export

The Plastics Export Promotion Council (popularly known as PLEXCONCIL) sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of Commerce, Government of India, represents the exporting community in the Indian Plastics industry.

#41. Processed Food Items

The food processing sector is one of the largest sectors in India in terms of production, growth, consumption, and export. The Indian food processing industry is export-oriented. India’s geographical situation gives it the unique advantage of connectivity to Europe, the Middle East, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Korea.

#42. Pulp or Wood

Present import taxes for chemical wood pulp, and sulfite, not dissolving grades as per the new India Budget. However, you have to pay the import tax for waste and scrap of paper or paperboard in India.

#43. Cashew Nuts Export

The Cashew Export Promotion Council of India(CEPC) provides the necessary institutional framework for performing the different functions that serve to intensify and promote exports of cashew kernels and cashew nutshell liquid. The Council provides the necessary liaison for bringing together foreign importers with member exporters of cashew kernels.

#44. Readymade Garments Export

India is the sixth-largest supplier of readymade garments in the world with a 3.7% share in global exports. The Government has implemented several export promotion measures, including incentives under the Focus Market Scheme and the Focus Product Scheme.

#45. Rice Export

Rice (including Basmati and Non-Basmati) occupy the major share in India’s total cereals export with 93.60%. The major importing countries of India’s cereals during the last financial year were Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Iraq, and Nepal.

#46. Silk

The Indian silk industry is one of the largest generators of employment and foreign exchange for the country. India enjoys a unique global position in terms of the production of all commercially useful varieties of silk. The silk products exported include natural silk yarns, fabrics, made-ups, readymade garments, silk carpets, and silk waste.

#47. Sugar

The Central Government has decontrolled the sugar sector partially by removing the levy obligation on sugar mills and doing away with the regulated release mechanism on the open market sale of sugar. The export of sugar is now free subject to prior registration of quantity with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

#48. Sunflower Seeds and Oil

The sunflower is a distinctive, flowering plant (Helianthus annuus L.), the seeds of which contain a valuable edible oil that contains more Vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. Most sunflower oil is used in food products. The seeds of confection varieties of sunflowers are also sold for human consumption and birdseed.

#49. Tea

Indian tea is among the finest in the world owing to strong geographical indications, heavy investments in tea processing units, continuous innovation, augmented product mix, and strategic market expansion. India has a significant share of the international tea market with a 12% share of world tea exports.

#50. Textile

Indian textiles and apparel have a history of fine craftsmanship and global appeal. Cotton, silk, and denim from India are highly popular abroad. With the upsurge in Indian design talent, Indian apparel has found success in the fashion centres of the world. Total exports for apparel and clothing accessories(knitted), stood at US$ 7.65 billion, growing by 15%.

#51. Tobacco

Tobacco and tobacco products generate around US$ 2.9 billion in revenues to the national exchequer by way of excise duty, and around US$ 728.9 million by way of foreign exchange every year. Our country exports tobacco to about 100 countries.

#52. Transport Equipment

India imports Machinery and Transport Equipment from China, Germany, Japan, the United States, and South Korea. The industry is very promising and you can find new technology integration almost every year.

#53. Woollen Yarn and Fabric

India is the seventh-largest producer of wool in the world with a global production share of nearly 1.8%. The US and the EU are key export destinations for Indian wool and wool-blended products. Indian exporters are geographically diversifying their exports to other regions such as the Middle East, Latin America, South East Asia, and East Asia to increase their footprint globally.

#54. Agricultural Commodities

Exporting agricultural commodities such as rice, wheat, pulses, fruits, and vegetables can capitalize on India’s abundant agricultural resources and cater to the global food demand.

#55. IT and Software Services

India possess great IT prowess and skilled workforce. Hence, the country is a leading destination for exporting IT services, software development, digital solutions, and outsourcing services to global clients.

#56. Renewable Energy Products

There is a growing emphasis on sustainability and renewable energy. You can tap this expanding global clean energy market by exporting solar panels, wind turbines, and other renewable energy products.

#57. Engineering Goods

India’s engineering industry manufactures a wide range of machinery, equipment, and engineering goods that are exported to diverse industries worldwide.

#58. Seafood Products

India’s extensive coastline and abundant marine resources make it a major exporter of seafood products. It includes shrimp, fish, and shellfish to international markets.

#59. Mobile Accessories and Gadgets:

With the higher penetration of smartphones and gadgets, exporting mobile accessories, chargers, cases, and gadgets can cater to the growing demand for tech accessories worldwide.

#60. Textile Machinery

India manufactures a range of textile machinery, including spinning, weaving, and dyeing machinery, which can be exported to textile industries worldwide.

Read: Best Online Import Export Courses

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key legal requirements for starting an import-export business in India?

Setting up an import-export business in India involves acquiring some mandatory licenses and permits. It includes obtaining an Importer Exporter Code (IEC), complying with Goods and Services Tax (GST) regulations, adhering to customs and trade regulations, and possibly registering under specific export promotion councils.

How can I ensure the quality of products for export?

Quality assurance is crucial. Engage with reputable suppliers, conduct quality checks, and adhere to international quality standards. Certifications like ISO can enhance the credibility of your products.

What are the potential challenges in the import-export business?

Challenges may include fluctuating currency exchange rates, geopolitical issues affecting trade relations, compliance with varying international regulations, and logistical complexities.

How can I find reliable buyers and suppliers internationally?

Utilize online platforms, participate in trade fairs, join business networks, and leverage the services of trade promotion organizations. Building personal relationships and conducting due diligence are essential.

What are the risks associated with the import-export business?

A: Risks include currency fluctuations, geopolitical tensions impacting trade, payment defaults, and regulatory changes. Mitigate risks through insurance, legal support, and thorough market research.

How do I stay informed about global market trends?

You are advised to stay updated through industry reports, market research, attending trade events, subscribing to international business publications, and networking with professionals in the field.

Is it necessary to hire a customs broker for import-export activities?

While not mandatory, hiring a customs broker can streamline the customs clearance process, ensuring compliance with regulations and reducing the risk of delays or fines.

What are the financing options available for import-export businesses?

Financing options include bank loans, trade finance, and export credit insurance. Explore government schemes and incentives that support export activities.

How can technology aid in the import-export business?

Technology can facilitate documentation, track shipments, automate inventory management, and enhance communication. Utilize digital platforms for marketing and conducting transactions.

Can a small business venture into international trade successfully?

Yes, with careful planning and niche identification, small businesses can successfully venture into international trade. Utilize online platforms, focus on a specific product or market, and gradually expand based on experience.

About Next What Business Research Team

The Editorial Staffs at NextWhatBusiness is a team of Business Consultants with years of experience in small and medium-scale manufacturing and service-based businesses.