Do you want to start an export-import business? If yes, you are in the right place. Find here a list of profitable import-export business ideas that can be started with small money.
It is without saying, 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.
Table of Contents
List of 50 Import Export Business Ideas
#1. Activated Carbon from Coconut Shell Export
India is a major coconut-producing country globally. And activated carbon from coconut shells is a very established item for foreign trade in India. Basically, activated carbon is an essential product for gold extraction and water purification.
#2. Agrochemical Import
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.
#3. Aluminium Import Export
Aluminium and related products have got 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.
#4. Animal & Vegetable Fat Import-Export
This is another lucrative segment for foreign trade. However, some of the items under this category are prohibited or restricted in most countries. If you are importing any commodity, you need to collect accurate information from the necessary government departments of importing country
#5. Bio-chemicals Import
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.
#6. Cereals & 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.
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. Basically, 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.
#8. Copper Import Export
Copper is an element, reddish-brown in color, having atomic number 29 and pertaining to the scientific symbol ‘Cu’. The largest copper-importing countries of the world include Spain, China, Germany, and the Philippines.
#9. Cotton Yarn & Fabric Export
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. Basically, countries like the USA, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, etc. are the major importing countries.
#10. Diamond Import Export
Basically, our country imports rough diamonds and export 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.
#11. Edible Vegetable Import Export
You can start an edible vegetable import-export business either as fresh or as chilled. Any importer or exporter of Edible Vegetables and Certain Roots and Tubers should know the HTS code (HS code) of the export product.
#12. Electronic Component Import
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.
#13. Electronic Toys Import
Generally, there are usually hot 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.
#14. Essential Oil Import Export
Essential oils represent another value-added product that can inject some life into the region’s flagging agricultural sector. By definition, the essential oil is any concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds obtained from plants. Such oils are generally extracted by distillation.
#15. Fertilizer Import
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.
#16. 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.
#17. Glass & Glassware Import
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.
#18. Guar Export
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, forming strong tough films have accounted for its rapid growth and use in various industries.
#19. Handicrafts Item Export
India is one of the major exporters and suppliers of handicrafts and gift products to the world market. The Indian handicraft industry is highly labor-intensive and decentralized, being spread all across the country in rural and urban areas. The present-day handicraft tradition of India is a perfect example of assimilation between traditional designs and modern techniques.
#20. IOT Import
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, home, factories, agriculture, livestock, electric grids, water supply networks, and of course individual consumers.
#21. Iron & Steel Import
In view of 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.
#22. Jewellery Export
For jewelry export, you can take the help of GJEPC. Basically, The GJEPC is the apex body of the gems & jewelry 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 centers for the industry. It thus has a wide reach and is able to have a closer interaction with members to serve them in a direct and more meaningful manner.
#23. Leather Item Export
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 has the capacity to 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.
#24. Machinery Import
Basically, 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 for supplying domestic entrepreneurs.
#25. Made-up Textile Article Import Export
Basically, 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.
#26. Meat & Processed Meat Export
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.
#27. Milk & Milk Products Export
India now has indisputably the world’s biggest dairy industry — in terms of milk production. 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. I
#28. Mineral Fuels & Waxes Export
Different countries have their own 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.
#29. Natural Rubber Import Export
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 Import Export Policy is required to furnish an RCMC granted by the Export Promotion Councils. In the case of Natural Rubber, Rubber Board is the authority to issue RCMC.
#30. Oil Seeds Export
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.
#31. Organic Chemical Import
Basically, 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.
#32. Organic Food Export
Organic products are grown under a system of agriculture without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides with an environmentally and socially responsible approach. In the last year, the organic food export realization was around 298 million USD. Organic products are exported to the European Union, the US, Canada, Switzerland, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asian countries, the Middle East, South Africa, etc.
#33. Pearl Import Export
Basically, you must follow Conditions in accordance with Hazardous Wastes 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.
#34. Petroleum Product Import Export
Basically, 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.
#35. Pharmaceutical Products Export
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. Basically, the council facilitates trade delegations/Buyer-Seller Meetings abroad. Additionally, it organizes periodical Seminars/Interactive meetings on export-related issues
#36. 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.
#37. Processed Food Item Export
Basically, 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 basically export-oriented. India’s geographical situation gives it the unique advantage of connectivity to Europe, the Middle East, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Korea.
#38. Pulp or Wood Import
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.
#39. Raw Cashew 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. Basically, the Council provides the necessary liaison for bringing together foreign importers with member exporters of cashew kernels.
#40. Readymade Garments Import 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.
#41. 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.
#42. Silk Export
Basically, 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.
#43. Spice Export
Indian spice has a record of fetching substantial foreign money from international trade. If you have a strong sourcing line, you can start exporting spice to foreign countries. Indian spices exports have been able to record strident gains in value.
#44. Sugar Export
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).
#45. Sunflower Seeds & Oil Export
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.
#46. Tea Export
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. Basically, India has a significant share of the international tea market with a 12% share of world tea exports.
#47. Textile Export
Indian textiles and apparels 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 centers of the world. Total exports for apparel and clothing accessories(knitted), stood at US$ 7.65 billion, growing by 15%.
#48. Tobacco Export
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. Actually, our country exports tobacco to about 100 countries.
#49. Transport Equipment Import & Export
Basically, 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.
#50. Woollen Yarn & Fabric Export
India is the seventh-largest producer of wool in the world with a global production share of nearly 1.8%. Basically, 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.
Apart from the list, there are several items that have great potential in the international market. Basically, you have to identify the specific market and buyer for the products.
How To Start Import Export Business
Open a current bank account to deal in Foreign Exchange
It is necessary for every exporter and importer to obtain a PAN from the Income Tax Department.
Then, apply for the IEC code. Basically, this is a 10-digit number that is mandatory for undertaking export/ import. You can submit the application for obtaining the IEC Number to the Regional Authority of DGFT in form ANF 2A along with the documents listed therein.
Finally, apply for the registration cum membership certificate. For availing authorization to import/ export or any other benefit or concession under FTP 2015-20, as also to avail the services/ guidance, you have to obtain RCMC granted by the concerned Export Promotion Councils/ FIEO/Commodity Boards/ Authorities.
Essential Tips to Start Import Export Business
After getting the necessary permissions and licenses, there are other aspects you will need to consider seriously. Basically, these are related to the business plan and operation.
a) Select The Right Product
This is the first thing you need to consider very seriously. All items are freely exportable except for a few items appearing in the prohibited/restricted list. After studying the trends of export of different products from India, select the right product for your business.
b) Select The Potential Market
After selecting the product you have to determine the most potential market. You must do research to know the market size, competition, quality requirements, payment terms, etc. Also, you can evaluate the markets based on the export benefits available for a few countries under the FTP. Additionally, you can take the help of export promotion agencies, Indian Missions abroad, colleagues, friends, and relatives in gathering information.
c) Find Buyers
After finalizing the product and potential market, you have to find buyers. Generally, participation in trade fairs, buyer-seller meets, exhibitions, B2B portals, and web browsing is an effective tool to find buyers. Additionally, you must set up your company website that provides all the information about your business. From the website, you can effectively generate leads.
d) Send Samples
When you start getting inquiries, you have to send the samples first. Providing customized samples as per the demands of Foreign buyers helps in getting export orders.
e) Fix Pricing
Product pricing is crucial in getting buyers’ attention and promoting sales in view of international competition. Basically, you have to work out taking into consideration all expenses from sampling to realization of export proceeds on the basis of terms of sale i.e. Free on Board (FOB), Cost, Insurance & Freight (CIF), Cost & Freight(C&F), etc.
f) Cover Risks Through ECGC
Generally, international trade involves payment risks due to buyer/ Country insolvency. However, you can cover these risks with an appropriate Policy from Export Credit Guarantee Corporation Ltd (ECGC). Where the buyer is placing an order without making an advance payment or opening a letter of credit, it is advisable to procure a credit limit on the foreign buyer from ECGC to protect against the risk of non-payment.
We hope, this list of import-export business ideas along with a startup guide on starting an import-export business will help you in starting your own venture easily.