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Every Friday, Plain Facts publishes a compilation of data-based insights, complete with easy-to-read charts, to help you delve deeper into the stories reported by Mint in the week gone by. Merchandise exports contracted for the first time in nearly two years in October, while inflation cooled off on the back of a favourable base. Meanwhile, the world population hit 8 billion.

Trade Headwinds

India’s merchandise exports contracted on a year-on-year basis for the first time in nearly two years in October because of global headwinds. The fall in exports was 16.7%, the biggest decline since the peak lockdown month of May 2020. Imports continued to grow, but the rate of growth was the slowest in nearly two years because of a softening of commodity prices. As a result, the country’s trade deficit widened to $26.91 billion.

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Inflation Respite

India’s retail inflation fell to a three-month low of 6.77% in October, down from 7.41% in September, because of the statistical effect of a low base. Inflation for the food and beverage group also fell to a three-month low of 7.04% in October as against 8.41% the previous month. However, despite the moderation, inflation is still above the Reserve Bank of India’s upper tolerance limit of 6.0%, which will keep the central bank on its toes in the December meeting of the monetary policy committee.

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Windfall Effect

30%: That’s the percentage decline in net profit of India’s top oil and gas producer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in Q2FY23 following the windfall tax imposed by the government. ONGC’s net profit fell despite its gross billing for crude oil production rising 37.7% year-on-year. ONGC director for finance, Pomila Jaspal, said at an investor call that the firm paid 6,400 crore as special additional excise duty in the quarter, PTI reported.

GST Boost

Goods and services tax (GST) collections stayed strong in October at 1.5 trillion, the second-highest monthly collection this fiscal year. Also, collections have come in above 1.4 trillion for the eighth straight month. High inflation may have helped boost collections, but the growth in GST mop-up this year has been higher than the nominal gross domestic product. High imports, which boosted integrated GST, may also have helped good collections,an analysis by howindialives.com showed.

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8-Billion Strong?

The world population reached the 8-billion mark on 15 November, according to a United Nations estimate. Also, India may become the world’s most populous country next year, surpassing China. With population growth, humanity has also progressed in poverty eradication and health, resulting in higher average life expectancy. Global population could peak at just over 10 billion by the end of the century, and the world will be battling new challenges such as climate change.

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Tech Layoffs

10,000: This is the number of employees Amazon plans to lay off in its technology and corporate sectors, starting this week. This is nearly 3% of the company’s corporate employees and 1% of its global workforce. A global growth slowdown has triggered such mass layoffs in technology companies. Earlier this month, Facebook’s parent company Meta revealed plans to lay off 11,000 employees. Other companies have announced hiring freezes.

India-UK Ties

The free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the UK, which aims to double bilateral trade by 2030, is likely to be closed by March, Mint reported. The trade deal has been facing delays due to the political and economic crisis in the UK. While the negotiations between the two countries are going on, newly appointed British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the G20 summit said that the UK would take its time to craft “right" free trade agreements with other countries.

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Chart of the Week: Easy to Hack

‘bigbasket’ is the fourth-most commonly used password in India, says a report by Nordpass. The findings also show that Indian internet users continue to use easily hackable password options such as “password" and its variants to secure their online account.

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