New Delhi: India’s trade deficit narrowed to $12.12 billion in November from $17.58 billion a year ago, according to commerce ministry figures released on Friday.
Merchandise exports contracted for the fourth consecutive month in November to $25.98 billion, while imports fell to $38.11 billion.
Out of the 30 major items in India’s export and import baskets, 17 export items and 21 imported goods contracted. Exports of cashew fell 33.9% and oil meals by 54.59%. Electronic goods exports, however, grew by 46.13%, drugs and pharmaceuticals by 20.60%, engineering goods 6.32% and marine products by 9%.
Among major imports, coal fell 23.6%, petroleum 18.6%, chemicals 15.11%, newsprint by 43.3%, non-ferrous metals by 12.3%, iron and steel 26.5%, and electronic goods shrank by 4.5%. However, gold imports picked up by 6%.
In November, oil imports declined by 18.17% to $11.06 billion, while non-oil imports contracted 10.26% to $27.04 billion.
Sharad Kumar Saraf, president, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said both domestic and global factors led to the decline in exports. “Prolonging trade tensions and protectionism, along with sluggishness in the economies across the globe, has further added to the woes of India’s exports sector. The slowdown projected across the economies for short-term and medium-term, and return to more normal trade relations among countries looks a mere probability."
During the first eight months of the fiscal year, exports contracted 1.99%, while imports shrank 8.91%, leading to a trade deficit of $54.06 billion.
A weakening external sector is also expected to put additional pressure on India. “The currency volatility besides fluctuation in commodities prices, including crude prices, have also led to the decrease in exports of petroleum, which is a major constituent of India’s exports," Saraf added.