Growth in exports slowed down to a six-month low of 3.49 per cent in December on account of decline in the export of petroleum products, while imports during the month contracted 15.25 per cent, resulting in a narrower trade deficit of $10.14 billion.
Commerce secretary SR Rao told reporters that merchandise exports rose $26.35 billion during the month while imports declined to stand at $36.49 billion in December.
Exports had grown by 5.86 per cent in November. “It is only one product group which has contributed to (slower growth in exports) and that is petroleum products,” he said adding that there was an unplanned maintenance shutdown at Reliance Industries, one of the country’s largest petroleum exporters.
Petroleum exports contracted by 16 per cent to $4.8 billion during the month. In the second quarter of FY14, Reliance’s total exports of refined products reached $11.1 billion and accounted for 67 per cent of its aggregate refinery product volumes.
On the imports front, a decline in gold and silver imports led to a lower import bill, which helped in narrowing the trade deficit to $10.1 billion in December. The import of gold and silver declined by 68.83 per cent year-on-year to $1.77 billion during the month as a result of the curbs imposed by the government.
Oil imports during the month were valued at $13.8 billion, 1.1 per cent higher than $13.75 billion during the corresponding period last year. Non-oil imports during the month were $22.58 billion, 22.9 per cent lower than $29.29 billion last fiscal.