New Delhi: Driven by a pick-up demand in the US and Latin American markets, India’s exports rose by 32.4% year-on-year to $20.6 billion in January, in line with projections that overall shipments will touch $225 billion this fiscal.
During the April-January period of 2010-11, outbound shipments grew by 29.3% to $184.63 billion vis-a-vis the year-ago period, commerce ministry data released on Tuesday showed.
Apex exporters’ body FIEO said the country’s exports are increasing in new markets of Latin America and Africa, along with the US and especially within Asia.
“The January number is a huge jump. Strategy of going beyond the traditional markets of the US and Europe is paying rich dividends,” the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said.
The government incentivises exporters to explore African and Latin American markets.
However, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said there are several external factors that pose challenges to the Indian economy.
“Global recovery remains fragile... There is also the danger of sovereign debt crisis in peripheral euro zone countries spilling over to financial markets,” Mukherjee said at the annual general meeting of Ficci here.
As per the data, imports grew by 13.1% during the month to $28.58 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $7.98 billion.
Commerce secretary Rahul Khullar recently said India is likely to cross the $200 billion export target for the fiscal in February and total shipments during the year are likely to touch $225 billion.
The commerce ministry has also sought public comments on its strategic paper to double India’s exports to $450 billion in the next three years.
As per the ministry, the sectors that performed well during the April-January period of the current financial year include gems and jewellery (up 9.3%), engineering (up 70%) and petroleum and oil lubricants (up 36%).
Exporters are seeing huge demand for engineering products from Latin American countries such as Colombia, an official said.
On the import front, oil imports grew by 7.8% to $7.85 billion in the month under review, taking the import bill during April-January, 2010-11, to $79.95 billion.
Non-oil imports grew by 23.8% to $20.73 billion in the month under review. Imports of non-oil items were up 19.2% during April-January to 193.64 billion from $162.4 billion in the same period last year.
Oil and non-oil imports totalled $273.59 billion in April-January, thus taking the trade gap to $88.96 billion. This is marginally lower than the $89.84 billion deficit recorded in the same period of 2009-10.
The government expects the trade gap to amount to $105-110 billion by the end of the fiscal.
With a view to help exporters and importers, the government has announced a procedure for ‘self assessment’ of duty liabilities, a move that will help reduce transaction times and costs. In addition, the process for exporters to claim service tax refunds has been simplified.
In the Budget 2011-12, the government has proposed to give duty benefits to exporters of handicrafts and leather products.