What you can easily and profitably export to the US from India Here is a ready reckoner on what works and how to go about the process of exporting to the Land of Opportunity
It’s far easier now to find and buy quality Indian handicrafts, pooja items, or Indian grocery in the US today than around 10 years ago. It also means that so many more Indian companies are able to easily reach American shores with their exclusive products. The world has simultaneously grown bigger and yet shrunk, thanks to the same factor – technology, and therefore availability.
You only need to look at the numbers emerging out of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to get the big picture – India was the United States’ 9th largest supplier of goods in 2016, with imports from India totalling $46 billion. That whopping number can only reinforce one thing — that America still remains The Land of Opportunity. And those indigenous products from India are growing in popularity in the USA.
What Really Works and Brings in the Profits
We look here, at the kind of products that can be easily exported from India to the US, and how that can add a new tangent of growth to your business. For example, I can quickly tell you that in the fast-growing retail market in US, the broad categories of jewellery, textile, handicrafts, cereals, spices, and organic products from India are in demand. These product categories can give you a good return on your investment.
But first, let’s understand the basics. Export products could broadly fall under these categories – ‘Edible for Human Consumption’ and ‘Non-Edible’. The US has a reputation as a highly regulated market. Edible items fall under US FDA and have stringent norms to enter the US. If it’s a non-edible product you want to export, it is much simpler and easier.
Infodriveindia’s India Export Database (based on shipping bills and bills of entry filed at Indian customs) lists furnishings, home linen and readymade clothing among the top 10 non-edible categories of goods exported from India to the US. Seafood and vegetable extracts form the toppers in the edible category.
According to statistics released by the USTR, the top import categories from India for 2016 were precious metal and stone (diamonds), pharmaceuticals, mineral fuels, miscellaneous textile articles and machinery, while the top agricultural imports from India for the same year included spices, rice, tree nuts, essential oils and processed fruits and vegetables. You will see that India’s traditional exports from over several hundred years still hold sway on the market.
My own 13+ years of experience in e-commerce, having run three online stores, leads me to believe that textiles and garments (especially Indian ethnic wear), handicrafts, wooden articles, spices, Indian grocery and essential oils are a good bet to export to the US. These products have a high demand in the US market.
Then again, if you are targeting the booming segment of Indian consumers in the US – it is estimated that more than three million Indians live in the US – the following would be your best bet – ready-to-eat foods, spices, religious items, ethnic wear, and jewellery. They are assured bestsellers.
Getting prepared with documentation and clearances
Now that you know what sells, it’s time to break it down to the logistics and the nitty gritty of paperwork.
To start with, you have to get an Import-Export code (IE Code) to export goods from India to any other country followed by the ‘Country of origin certificate’ for the chosen product.
If it is a food product, you will need a food export license. Exporting any edible item may in some cases require FDA approval and the items must have clear details about the ingredients.
On booking a container, you will have to get the ‘Bill of Lading’ from the carrier and submit all the documents to Indian Customs. After verifying the goods and documents, the Customs will provide the ‘Let Export document’ to export.
Next, you will have to file for the ‘Import Security Filing’ – this has to be done 48 hours prior to loading goods on board for the US Customs clearance.
In terms of products, clothing, costume jewellery and handicraft are the easiest to export with regard to procedures and paperwork.
Please ensure that you understand and make a list of all the documents needed to export a specific category of item to the US. If the goods that you export are rejected by the US customs, it could be a significant blow to the business.
Quality control is another important factor before packing and shipping your products in container.
Use a logistics service
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a contract with a good logistics service company to ensure that your orders are delivered on time. Some of them offer door-to-door delivery from the point of origin to the point of consumption. These companies coordinate all procedures such as documentation, container booking, trucking and customs clearance to ensure your goods reach without any delay.
About the Author
Deepak Agarwal, Co-founder, DesiClik.com is a commerce graduate from Kolkata with diplomas in computer science from NCC Education, UK. He has been in the US for 20 years now, and has done his master’s in business management from Tulane University in the US.