New Delhi- India’s merchandise exports rose 6.21 per cent to USD 33.57 billion in October this year, even as the trade deficit touched a record high of USD 31.46 billion during the month, government data showed on Wednesday.

Imports increased by 12.3 per cent to USD 65.03 billion in the month under consideration due to a jump in gold imports.

Inbound shipments of gold rose by 95.5 per cent to USD 7.23 billion. Oil imports also increased by 8 per cent to USD 17.66 billion during the month.

The country’s trade deficit in goods in October last year stood at USD 26.31 billion.

The deficit (difference between imports and exports) during October is the “highest” because of the largest import figures, Additional Secretary in the Commerce Ministry L Satya Srinivas told reporters here.

Cumulatively, exports during the April-October period this fiscal contracted by 7 per cent to USD 244.89 billion, while imports fell 8.95 per cent to USD 391.96 billion.

The trade deficit during the seven-month period was USD 147.07 billion against USD 167.14 billion in the corresponding period last year.

Gold imports during the period rose 23 per cent to USD 29.5 billion, while crude oil imports dipped by 18.72 per cent to about USD 100 billion during April-October this fiscal.

Briefing reporters on the data, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said the trade numbers in October reflect ‘green shoots’ of recovery in outbound shipments.

“I am hopeful that we will be crossing the last year’s figures,” he said, adding the positive growth is there despite a fall in commodity prices, “but we are waiting and watching” the global situation.

Exports are impacted due to the geopolitical situation and other risks like high inflation and economic slowdown in advanced economies; the Russia-Ukraine war; China-Taiwan and China US issues; and the Israel-Palestine war.

De-globalisation and waning appetite for international trade are leading to tariff and non-tariff barriers, which also affect exports.

The country’s exports were in a negative zone during February-July. After a revision of numbers by the ministry, the shipments showed 3.88 per cent positive growth in August, but in September it contracted by 2.6 per cent.

Imports have turned positive after ten months of negative growth between December 2022 and September 2023.

According to the data, 22 of the 30 key sectors exhibited positive growth in October, and that includes iron ore, meat, dairy and poultry products, pharma, electronic goods, carpet, plastic, marine and engineering goods.

On the other hand, import sectors that recorded high growth in October include pulses (112.2 per cent), fruits and vegetables (53.4 per cent), non-ferrous metals (21.24 per cent) and electronics goods (26 per cent).

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has forecasted that global trade will grow only by 0.8 per cent in 2023.

Further, as per the data, services exports in October are estimated at USD 28.7 billion compared to USD 25.3 billion a year ago. Imports stood at USD 14.32 billion against USD 13.51 billion.

The estimated value of services exported in April-October 2023 was USD 192.65 billion against USD 181.37 billion in April-October 2022.

Barthwal expressed hope that the growth in goods export would be sustained in the coming months.

However, he said that interest rates and inflation are still high in developed economies.

“We are looking at new markets” to explore export opportunities, he said.   (PTI)


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