India & The New NAFTA: A Trade Powerhouse in 2024?

India’s relationship with NAFTA is intriguing, especially post-NAFTA. Explore how India navigates trade with Canada, Mexico, and the US amid evolving agreements.

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The dynamic between India and NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is quite intriguing, especially now that NAFTA is no longer in effect. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (1994-2020):

This groundbreaking agreement created a free trade zone encompassing Canada, Mexico, and the United States. While India wasn’t part of NAFTA, it maintained bilateral trade relations with each country.

United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) (2020-Present):

At the dawn of 2020, NAFTA made way for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This new agreement upholds the fundamental principles of free trade among the three North American nations, but India remains outside looking in.

India’s Trade with Former NAFTA Members:

Despite not being formally tied to NAFTA or USMCA, India has fostered robust trade connections with Canada, Mexico, and the United States. These nations serve as crucial markets for a variety of Indian exports spanning different industries.

What We Know About India’s Trade with Former NAFTA Nations:


India ships a diverse array of goods to these countries, ranging from gems & jewelry and textiles & apparel to pharmaceuticals (specifically to the US), rice, auto parts, coffee & tea, organic chemicals, cotton yarn & fabrics, and machinery.

Potential for Growth:

Exciting opportunities abound in sectors like Information Technology, renewable energy products, and engineering goods, hinting at untapped potential for expanding Indian exports to these markets.

India exports the following products to NAFTA Nations:

Commodity ViewTotal Exports 
Apr’23 – Mar’24 ($Mn)
% Share in selected
criteria’s total exports
Engineering Goods22,074.0025.46%
Electronic Goods10,611.5412.24%
Gems And Jewellery10,109.4711.66%
Drugs And Pharmaceuticals9,569.7911.04%
Petroleum Products5,834.216.73%
Ready-made garments of all textiles5,129.405.92%
Organic and Inorganic Chemicals4,447.245.13%
Cotton Yarn/Fabs./Madeups, Handloom Products Etc.3,222.893.72%
Marine Products2,702.993.12%
Plastic And Linoleum1,928.442.22%
Mica, Coal, And Other Ores, Minerals Including Process921.021.06%
Man-Made Yarn/Fabs./Madeups Etc.852.850.98%
Ceramic Products And Glassware815.940.94%
Handicrafts Excl. Hand Made Carpet750.490.87%
Cereal Preparations And Miscellaneous Processed Item572.760.66%
Mica, Coal And Other Ores, Minerals Including Process530.280.61%
Fruits And Vegetables374.920.43%
Meat, Dairy And Poultry Products182.280.21%
Jute Mfg. Including Floor Covering86.540.10%
Oil Seeds82.410.10%
Oil Meals26.230.03%
Other Cereals5.80.01%
Iron Ore0.010.00%
This figure is from the Commerce Ministry of India.

FAQs on India’s Trade with Former NAFTA Nations

  1. Q: Does India have a trade agreement with NAFTA countries?

    Ans: No, India was never a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which existed from 1994 to 2020. However, India has maintained strong bilateral trade relations with each of the former NAFTA countries: Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

  2. Q: What is the current trade agreement between the US, Mexico, and Canada?

    Ans: The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), implemented in 2020, replaced NAFTA. Although India is not part of USMCA, it still enjoys substantial trade ties with these North American nations.

  3. Q: What are India’s main exports to the former NAFTA countries?

    Ans: India exports a wide range of products to Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Key exports include:
    1. Gems & jewelry (to the US)
    2. Textiles & apparel (to the US)
    3. Pharmaceuticals (to the US)
    4. Rice (to Canada)
    5. Auto parts & components (to Canada)
    6. Coffee & tea (to Canada and Mexico)
    7. Organic chemicals (to Mexico)
    8. Cotton yarn & fabrics (to Mexico)
    9. Machinery & mechanical appliances (to Mexico)

  4. Q: What are some potential growth areas for India’s exports to these countries?

    Ans: There is significant potential for expanding India’s exports in sectors such as:
    – Information Technology (IT)
    – Renewable energy products (e.g., solar panels, wind turbines)
    – Engineering goods (e.g., machinery, equipment)

  5. Q: Where can I find data on India’s trade with the former NAFTA countries?

    Ans: Ministry of Commerce and Industry: (trade statistics section)
    Export Promotion Councils: Industry-specific export promotion councils might publish data on exports to these countries.

  6. Q: What are the benefits of trade between India and the former NAFTA countries?

    Ans: a) Increased market access for Indian goods and services.
    b) Creation of jobs in both India and the former NAFTA countries.
    c) Lower prices for consumers due to increased competition.
    d) Transfer of technology and knowledge.

  7. Q: Are there any challenges to trade between India and the former NAFTA countries?

    Ans: Tariffs and non-tariff barriers can still hinder trade flows.
    Differences in regulations and standards can create challenges.
    Infrastructure limitations can impact logistics and transportation costs.

  8. Q: How can India overcome these challenges and improve trade with the former NAFTA countries?

    Ans: a) Negotiating free trade agreements with these countries.
    b) Streamlining customs procedures and regulations.
    c) Investing in infrastructure development to improve logistics.
    d) Promoting greater cooperation and dialogue between businesses in India and the former NAFTA countries.

  9. Q: What is the future outlook for India’s trade with the former NAFTA countries?

    Ans: The outlook is positive, with potential for continued growth in bilateral trade. India’s expanding economy and production capabilities, along with the diverse demand in North America, indicate a promising future for trade relations.

  10. Q: How can I learn more about India’s trade policies and initiatives?

    Ans: Department of Commerce, Government of India:
    Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT):
    Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India:


India’s connection to NAFTA is indirect. From 1994 to 2020, NAFTA forged a trade pact among Canada, Mexico, and the US, but India wasn’t part of the club. When NAFTA transitioned to USMCA in 2020, the trio’s trade partnership persisted.

Even though India wasn’t formally involved in either deal, its trade bonds with Canada, Mexico, and the US are robust. These nations serve as key markets for Indian exports, encompassing gems & jewelry, textiles, pharmaceuticals (especially to the US), and more. Exciting prospects for expansion exist in sectors like IT, renewable energy, and engineering goods.

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