Exports fell for the ninth consecutive month, dipping by 20.66 per cent in August to $21.26 billion on the back of a steep decline in engineering and petroleum shipments.
Despite government efforts to clamp down on gold imports, data released by the commerce ministry on Tuesday revealed that the trade deficit widened to $12.47 billion with import of the metal shooting up by 140 per cent in August from a year ago.
However, the deficit has narrowed as compared with July, when the figure stood at $12.81 billion. Imports, too, declined by 9.95 per cent to $33.74 billion.
Concerned over weak global demand, exporters have been seeking incentives and lower borrowing costs to make their goods more competitive in the international market. The issue was also raised by industrialists at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week. Expressing disappointment over the dip, Federation of Indian Export Organisation (Fieo) said softening of prices of key agricultural and industrial inputs, coupled with dip in global demand, is the prime cause for the decline. Exports had contracted by as much as 21 per cent in March.
“The Prime Minister and the commerce and industry minister should intervene in the matter. Immediate consultation with export bodies should be held to draw a roadmap for exports in such challenging time in which reaching last year’s exports figure looks difficult,” it said in a statement.
The data revealed that gold imports increased to $4.95 billion in the month under review from $ 2.06 billion in August last year.
The main sectors which reported decline in exports include petroleum products (47.88 per cent), engineering (29 per cent), leather (12.78 per cent), marine products (20.83 per cent) and carpet (22 per cent).
Oil imports also dropped 42.59 per cent in August to $7.35 billion. Non-oil imports grew by 7.01 per cent to $26.38 billion. During the first five months (April-August) period, exports are down 16.17 per cent at $111.09 billion. Imports, too, have declined by 11.61 per cent to $168.6 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $57.5 billion. With PTI