Importing from India to Australia: Ultimate Guide + India Top Commodities

India is a country with promising economic growth that has grown exponentially in recent years. Having a population of more than 1 billion people, the country is expected to become the world’s fifth-largest economy in 2024.

With Australia having now signed a new interim trade deal with India, our Asian neighbour is going to play a more important role in our economy. Australian importers and exporters should look closely at the Indian market, where plenty of new opportunities will arise. 

Below, we’ll look into India in detail. This article will look at what the Indian market can offer, its key imports and how you can ship your goods to and from India as well as the new trade deal signed in 2022.

Generally doing business with India

India takes great pride in its history and culture, so anyone doing business in the country should also give due importance to it – and must not neglect it.

Indians tend to also be family-oriented – that’s why it is common to see many Indian family-owned companies. In that regard, whoever wishes to do business with India or is shipping goods from India to Australia must make every deal a relational one and not simply a transactional one.

Indians have high regard for Australia, which means that they are generally willing to trade. If you’re a business owner, then you must also learn to adjust, be flexible, negotiable, and always provide clear communication when doing business with partners, suppliers and clients in India.

What the Indian market offers

As Australia’s biggest trade partner, India offers a significant amount of potential business and investment opportunities. In 2017, Australia imported over USD 20 billion worth of goods while it received over USD 7 billion worth of exports from India. This is an indication that the two countries have built a solid trade relationship and that it can further progress in the years to come.

The following sectors in India are growing, and can unlock a significant amount of opportunity for Australian businesses:

  • Agriculture
  • Mining
  • Education
  • Food and food products
  • Biotechnology and pharmaceuticals
  • Automotive
  • Road and Rail infrastructure
  • Tourism

Asialink Business has published a free India Country Starter Pack detailing some of these opportunities in further detail, which you can download here.

Key Imports from India

So, what does Australia import from India? According to Statista, below are the top commodities exported by India for 2021, arranged in descending order:

Commodity 

Share of Exports

Examples

Engineering Goods

26.29%

Steel, iron, industrial machinery, auto components, non-ferrous metals, and other engineering products.

Gems & Jewelry

8.92%

Cut diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, gold jewelry, and silver jewelry.

Petroleum Products

8.84%

Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Motor Spirit, Naphtha, Aviation Turbine Fuel, Superior Kerosene Oil, High-Speed Diesel, Light Diesel Oil, Lubes, Petroleum Coke, etc.

Drugs & Pharmaceuticals

8.38%

Generic drugs, over the counter (OTC) medicines, patented drugs, bulk drugs, drug formulations, drug intermediates, Ayush, biological products, etc.

Organic & Inorganic Chemicals

7.57%

Organic chemicals include acetic acid, nitrobenzene, acetone, methanol, phenol, aniline, etc.

Inorganic chemicals include caustic soda, soda ash, liquid chlorine, calcium carbide, titanium dioxide, calcium carbonate, etc.

This industry also covers tanning and dyes, synthetic rubber, plastics, and filaments.

Ready-made garments of all textiles

4.21%

Garments made of cotton, silk, and other textiles.

Electronic Goods

3.80%

IT Hardware including personal computers, laptops, servers, tablets, and mobile phones

Consumer electronics including TV and audio, industrial electronics, and auto electronics.

Cotton yarn, fabric, made-ups, handloom products, etc.

3.37%

Man-made yarns, handicrafts, floor covering, readymade garment.

Rice

3.03%

Basmati Rice and Non-Basmati rice.

Plastic and Linoleum

2.56%

Plastic merchandise like polyester films, soft luggage items, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), packaging, consumer goods, etc.

As shown above, Australian imports from India are led by engineering products. Their country’s engineering exports grew to 54% (almost USD 82 billion from USD 52.9 billion) from April 2021 to December 2022.

Shipping Methods to and From India

There are various ways you can ship your goods to and from India shipping to Australia, and we’ll outline some of these methods below.

Air Freight

Airfreight is undoubtedly the swiftest mode of transport when importing from India to Australia, although it’s usually the more expensive option. For airfreight, the shipping charges from Australia to India are computed through volumetric weight or actual weight, whichever is higher.

General Transit Times

With a 5,500 km distance between the two countries, your import could arrive on Australian soil as early as 24 hours and as long as six days.

Ocean Freight

Sea freight is typically slower than shipping goods by air, but it incurs a cheaper shipping cost from India to Australia especially when it comes to bulky shipments.

General Transit Times

The lead time ranges from 24 to 32 days, depending on the route chosen (east or west coast). The key factor here is building a good working relationship with India’s shipping companies. As emphasised from the beginning, India values personal relationships.

Getting the documentation correct

Documentation is an essential part of the importation process to ensure a smooth supply chain flow when importing from India. Ensure that the documents below properly comply.

1. Commercial Invoice

There’s no imposed standard on the format for this document but 4 copies are required. It should be duly signed by the supplier and the following details must be present:

  • Originating country
  • Name of consignee
  • Payment Terms
  • Letter of credit number and date
  • Import license number
  • Carrier Name
  • Number
  • Details of exported goods (quantity, gross and net weight, value, insurance, and shipping charges.
Commercial Invoice for export Sample

2. Packing Declaration

The purpose of these documents is to declare the type of packing materials used when shipping from India to Australia. This is important to ensure that biosecurity measures are observed and that no harmful material can enter Australian grounds.

  • Letterhead, name, and address of supplier or packer
  • Cargo vessel’s name and voyage number
  • Exporter’s and importer’s names
  • Significant markings related to the consignment;
  • Declaration if the packing material contains any unacceptable material
  • Declaration if goods contain any bamboo, dunnage, or timber
  • Declaration if packing material was properly treated
  • A declaration that goods are clean and free from animal or material

3. Packing List

While this document is not required, it helps during customs clearance if you import to Australia from India. It carries, but is not limited to, the following details:

  • Seller Name
  • Buyer name
  • Shipper
  • Invoice Number
  • Date of Shipment
  • Mode of Shipment
  • Carrier
  • Item description and quantity
  • Type of packaging

4.   Certificate of Origin (CO)

This document certifies the place where the shipped goods were grown, produced, or manufactured. The CO declares the goods shipped and contains a certification issued by a government or authorised body in its originating country.

Do take note of the following considerations for COs:

  • Include an Exporters Information Form Update
  • Before stamping, evidence of origin should be provided (e.g. bill of lading, invoice copies, letter of credit, etc)
  • Copy of stamped documents for Chamber records
  • The exporter should sign all export documents before submitting them for authentication
  • COs should be typed

India’s Free Trade Agreement

As a key player in the global economy, India has numerous trade agreements with various countries. While there is no conclusive trade agreement with Australia just yet, the two countries did sign an interim trade deal known as the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AIECTA) in April 2022. This was a major stepping for the nations’ economic relationship.

Negotiations for a free trade agreement were launched as early as 2011, temporarily suspended in 2015, but re-engaged in 2020. AIECTA will come into effect in mid-2022, and we look forward to seeing how the relationships develop under Australia’s new federal government.

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