New Delhi - India’s merchandise exports showed a 6.21% year-on-year rise in October after being in the negative growth zone since February, except for August, mainly aided by a low base. Import of goods too broke the trend of ten consecutive months of negative growth to register 12.3% y-o-y increase in October, but this was to a large extent due to a surge in inward shipments of gold and silver and had less to do with input imports meant for domestic value addition or exports.
Government officials still attributed the improvement in trade numbers after several months of torpor to economic “green shoots” and expressed the hope that last fiscal year’s exports of $451.1 billion will be exceeded in the current year, despite severe global headwinds.
The import jump, attributable to a shift in festive calender, precipitated a larger-than-expected trade deficit of $31.46 billion in October, which was not only up 19% on year but was also all-time-high monthly deficit.
“In August green shoots were visible, and in October and through the first week of November these have stabilised. I am very hopeful that we will be crossing last year’s (export) figure, and this is happening despite the fall in commodity prices,” Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said.
For the record, exports in October stood at $33.57 billion and imports at $65.03 billion. Cumulatively, exports during the April-October period of the current fiscal year shrank 7% to $244.89 billion, while imports fell 8.95% to $391.96 billion.
Gold imports were up 95% on year to $7.2 billion in October while silver imports rose 124% to $1.7 billion.
Officials said the big jump in gold and silver imports was likely due to a surge in domestic demand. Much demand for these previous metals for re-exports after converting them into ornaments is not seen– there wasn’t a similar increase in the exports of gems and jewellery. Gems and jewellery exports were in fact down 9.8% on year to $2.9 billion in October.
“The higher trade deficit in October is due to a shift in the festive calendar but it is expected to moderate in November, Chief Economist at ICRA Aditi Nayar said. For the full year she said the current account deficit would come in at 1.8-2%.
According to the data, 22 of the 30 key sectors exhibited positive growth in October, and these include iron ore, meat, dairy and poultry products, pharma, electronic goods, carpet, plastic, marine and engineering goods.
Engineering goods have shown a third straight month of growth in October while pharma has been doing well despite a fall in per unit realisation. Engineering goods exports were up 7.2% on year to $8 billion while pharma exports grew 29% to $ 2.4 billion.
On the other hand, import sectors that recorded high growth in October include pulses (112.2 %), fruits and vegetables (53.4 %), non-ferrous metals (21.24 %) and electronics goods (26 %)
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