Five major commodities, led by petroleum crude and products, account for 66 percent of country's total imports. Other product groups include pearls, machinery, gold and silver, electronic goods and organic & inorganic chemicals. In six years (1994-95 to 2000-01) share of petroleum and other petro products in India's total imports increased by 10.84 percent; pearls by 3.97 percent; and electronic goods by 6.43 percent. Share of gold and silver in country's total imports during this period dropped by 6.79 percent at 8.24 percent and organic & inorganic chemicals by 2.55 percent at 4.91 percent.
Movements have been quite varied in the four principal categories of imports (oil, non-oil bulk, export-related and other imports). While oil imports have fluctuated quite significantly, as is to be expected, and rose to relatively high levels in 1996-97 and 1999-00 to 2000-01, export related imports have shown a low but consistent rate of increase since 1994-95.
Non-oil bulk imports, on the other hand, have stagnated till the mid-1990s, risen by a small amount during 1995-97 and stagnated once again thereafter.
The really striking feature of the experience is the increase in "other imports" between 1991-92 and 1998-99, after which they have stagnated. We must note here, that the segment of imports most affected by liberalisation was the large category of "other imports", which includes most manufactured imports directed towards production for or direct sale in the domestic market. The share of that category, which stood at 40 per cent in 1990-91, rose to 47 per cent in 1995-96 and 52 per cent in 1998-99, before falling to 43 per cent in 2000-01
One reason why the other imports category did not rise even further as a result of the liberalisation was the fact that capital goods imports which rose from $4.2 billion...