India’s merchandise exports contracted for the thirteenth consecutive month, falling 14.75 per cent from last year to $22.29 billion in December 2015.
A sharp fall in petroleum product and engineering goods exports contributed to the fall. The trade deficit widened to a four-month high of $11.66 billion in December from $9.17 billion a year ago, with imports contracting 3.88 per cent from last year to $33.96 billion, data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed.
Total exports during April-December, the first nine months of this financial year, shrank 18.06 per cent to $196.60 billion, while imports contracted 15.87 per cent to $295.81 billion during the same period. Trade deficit in April-December was lower at $99.207 billion from the deficit of $111.685 billion in the same period a year ago.
With only three months remaining in the current financial year, the total exports are likely to be lower than last year. In 2014-15, India’s exports had stood at $310.34 billion, while imports were $448.03 billion.
“On the same trend, it will certainly be much lower than the last year (2014-15),” Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said at a news conference on Monday. Teaotia said that this is the third consecutive year of slowdown and since India is well integrated with the world economy, there would an impact of the global slowdown on the country’s exports.The decline in exports was seen in items such as engineering goods, which declined 15.68 per cent to $5.82 billion.
Gems & jewellery also recorded a contraction, falling 7.75 per cent on year to $2.46 billion in December, while iron ore exports declined 69.5 per cent from last year to $21.24 million. Outward shipments of items such as tea, coffee, pharmaceuticals and jute manufacturing, however, recorded an increase during the month.
“Global demand also does not seem to be picking up. With only countries like US showing little signs of improvement, this does not augur well for the country’s export sector in the long-run,” FIEO President S C Ralhan said. Forming the third highest constituent of India’s import basket after crude and electronic goods, gold imports more than doubled, rising by a whopping 179 per cent to $3.80 billion in December from $1.36 billion in the same period last year.