A marginal 2.44% increase in exports as well as lower imports of gold and petroleum products in February, significantly narrowed the country’s trade deficit to $9.6 billion, according to data released by the Commerce Ministry on Friday.
India’s merchandise exports rose to $26.67 billion in February from $26.03 in the year-ago month mainly on account of higher shipments in sectors such as pharmaceutical, engineering and electronics.
Imports declined by 5.4% to $36.26 billion in the last month, narrowing the trade deficit to $9.6 billion. The gap between imports and exports was $12.3 billion in February 2018, and $14.73 billion in January 2019.
As per the data, the drop in imports was mainly on account of sharp decline in inward shipments of gold and petroleum products.
Gold import falls
While the import of gold fell by about 11% to $2.58 billion in February, as against $2.89 billion in the corresponding month last fiscal, inward shipments of petroleum products were down by nearly 8% to $9.37 billion. During the April-February period of the current fiscal year, exports grew 8.85% to $298.47 billion, while imports rose by 9.75% to $464 billion. The trade deficit has widened to $165.52 billion during the 11 months of the current fiscal from $148.55 billion compared to the year-ago period, the data said.
Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in February 2019 stood at $19.87 billion, as compared to $18.90 billion in the year-ago month. Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in April-February 2018-19 were $217.43 billion, as against $201.95 billion in the comparative period last fiscal.
President of exporters’ body FIEO Ganesh Kumar Gupta said 18 out of 30 major product groups were in positive territory, with most of them with marginal growth during the month. “However, with this trend, we will be able to achieve merchandise exports of about $330 billion, the highest ever exports for a fiscal,” he added.
Meanwhile, RBI said services exports in January 2019 were $17.75 billion, registering a negative growth of 1.02% over December 2018.