Nov exports up 27% at $18.9 bn; imports grow at slower pace

Nov exports up 27% at $18.9 bn; imports grow at slower pace

New Delhi: India’s November exports increased by 26.8% to $18.9 billion year-on-year, prompting government to exude confidence that overall shipments this fiscal may breach the target and touch $215 billion.

Imports for November grew at a much slower pace of 11.2% to $27.8 billion. The $8.9 billion trade gap is manageable, said commerce secretary Rahul Khullar while releasing initial merchandise trade estimates for November.

The government, meanwhile, is keeping a close watch on developments in some European economies.

Khullar said events in Ireland, Spain and Portugal could affect Indian exports. “These are big economies and slowdown in them will affect global economy."

For the April-November period, exports have grown by 26.7% to $140.3 billion, while imports clocked $222 billion, expanding 24%. The trade balance for the first eight months of 2010-11 works out to $81.7 billion.

If the current trend continues, the country could end-up with a trade deficit of $120 billion.

“I am not sanguine. One blip on crude prices and my import bill suddenly zooms. On pro-rata basis we are looking at $120 billion with a caveat that if oil prices go up, it could be $130-135 billion," Khullar said.

Crude oil prices are ruling at $87-88 per barrel.

“Exports are doing pretty well... at this rate, four months from now, you are looking at anywhere between $210-215 billion," Khullar said.

Earlier, the government had set an export target of $200 billion for the current fiscal, against the shipments of $179 billion 2009-10.

“There is huge amount of positive growth everywhere in the first eight months (of 2001-11)," Khullar said. However, certain sectors like garments and agricultural items are in negative as exports of most of the commodities are restricted.

The big positive on exports came from the engineering sector which increased by 50% in the first eight months to $31.6 billion, and gems and jewellery by 16%. Helped by firming of prices in the global market, exports of petroleum refinery products increased by 41% and cotton yarn by 46.5%.

Khullar said November figures may be “revised upwards" as some data, including from special economic zones, is yet to be compiled.

FIEO President A Sakthivel said Indian export profile is undergoing a sea change and new emerging sectors like engineering, petroleum, pharmaceuticals and chemicals are now dominating the export segment.