Industry and trade were generally prosperous during Gupta period.There was a balance of foreign trade. The major change in foreign trade was the decline of the Roman trade. The three important southern ports of Muziris, Arikamedu, and Kaveripattanam also lost their importance. There were two types of merchants in the Gupta period namely Sresthi and Sarthavaha. Luxury goods were the principal articles of long distance trade. The internal trade used to be carried on by roads and rivers. Foreign trade was used to be carried on by sea and land.
In Gupta period, Indian ports always maintained relations with Sri Lanka, Persia, Arabia, Ethiopia, the Byzantine Empire, China and the islands of the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka was an important port both in the foreign trade of the island and in the inter-oceanic commerce between the East and the West. The volume of external trade of India with China greatly increased during the Gupta period. Chinasunka a Chinese silk, had a good market in India.
Trade relations with Western Asia furnished during the later part of this period. This trade strengthened the ancient trade relations between India and the Western countries.
According to Cosmas, agricul¬tural products, aloes, clove-wood, and sandalwood were exported, in his time, from the east coast of India to Sri Lanka . They exported it to the Western and even Persian and Ethiopian ports. Horses were imported from North-West India .
The following is the highlight during the Gupta period.
• Silk Route linked India to other markets.
• Indian merchants traded cashmere, cotton, spices for Chinese silk.
• Gupta, Tamil kingdoms in southern India traded actively most of by sea.
• Indian sailors used seasonal winds for getting into foreign markets across Arabian Sea.
• Trade played key role in propagating the Indian culture.