Exports grow highest in 33-month in December

Exports grow highest in 33-month in December

New Delhi: India’s exports showed a “remarkable" annual growth of 36.4%, highest in 33-month with consignments in December 2010 raising prospects of the country exporting $215-225 billion worth of merchandise in the current fiscal.

Exports in December aggregated $22.5 billion, while imports contracted by 11.1% to $25.1 billion, resulting in a narrow trade deficit of $2.6 billion, the lowest in three-year.

“The US markets have been (doing) pretty good, even EU markets are good," commerce secretary Rahul Khullar said here while giving the trade figures.

A “remarkable job by exports" was also attributed to diversification of India’s export markets. For instance, 112% rise in engineering exports was helped much by orders from Latin American countries like Columbia, he said.

Khullar said thanks to lowering of trade deficit, India’s worries on overall current account deficit would be abated. The overall trade gap may not be more than $120 billion for this year, against earlier apprehensions of $130-135 billion.

The government had set an export target of $200 billion for 2010-11.

“It is quite clear that the Indian exports are on a rebound," said Rakesh Mohan Joshi of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT).

In December, the exporting sectors registered higher growth, which includes engineering (112%), electronics (88%), man made fibres (30%), yarns (65%) and drugs (810%).

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said that India’s exports would easily touch $220 billion by the end of 2010-11.

“India should explore the possibility of increasing its focus areas so as to achieve a quantum jump in exports," FIEO president Ramu S. Deora said.

During April-December 2010-11, the country’s merchandise export grew by 29.5% to $164.7 billion. Imports too rose by 19% to $247.1 billion over the year-ago period.

“Normally export in the last quarter is about $50-60 billion," Khullar said, adding that incentives announced for exporters, which were hit hard by the global slump in demand, in January last year also helped.

He said that going by these cumulative numbers the country’s exports would grow by about 20% over the previous year. In 2009-10 India’s exports stood at $176.5 billion. Trade deficit during the first nine months stood at $82.4 billion.

During the period, engineering exports grew by over 60%, year-on-year to $38.8 billion. “If they carry on at this rate, they will cross $55 billion by end of the fiscal and that will be an all time high," Khullar said.

Other sectors, which performed well include gems and jewellery (10%), electronics (35%), man-made fibre (11%), yarn (55%), carpets (43%), drugs (13%), chemicals (20%), plastics (28%) and leather (10%).

“These are all components of our export basket and they are doing pretty well," he said.

On imports, the Secretary said that virtually all imports categories in December 2010 registered negative growth -- petroleum (-16%), fertiliser and gold and silver (-30%) and coal (-36%).

However in April-December this fiscal, imports registered positive growth. The sectors include petroleum (67%), vegetable oil (34%), chemicals (35%), iron and steel (32%).

Khullar added that for certain labour-intensive exporting sectors, which are still not doing well, may get some sops. However, he added that “(we) have very little fiscal room for manoeuvre. We will take stock that which sectors really needs it (sops)."