Slumping global commodity prices are typically seen as a boon for India, a country that relies heavily on oil imports to service its energy needs, but a closer look indicates it’s not all good news.
That’s because least 35 percent of India’s exports come from commodities-linked products including refined petroleum, gold jewelry, gems, iron and steel. While typically lower input costs should burnish profits for these companies, prices of the final goods Indian manufacturers crank out have also slumped.
“India’s miners are seeing sharp contraction in their earnings, agriculture commodity producers are seeing their earnings affected due to the weak price of agriculture products, and the gems/jewelry sector is undergoing a major downturn,” said Taimur Baig, chief economist at Deutsche Bank.
The export value of refined fuels – which make up nearly one-fifth of total exports – is down 51 percent on-year this fiscal year, for example, amid falling prices and weak demand. Similarly, gold jewelry exports are down 20 percent on year, while iron and steel exports are down 30 percent, according to the bank.
Of India’s top five export destinations – the U.S., United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, China and Saudi Arabia – exports to China have slowed the most, followed by Saudi Arabia.
While India is not nearly as export-oriented economy compared with many of its Asian neighbors, exports account for a sizable portion of its gross domestic product (GDP) – approximately 15 percent.