— Shabab Khan
Contracting for the 11th month in a row, India’s merchandise exports fell 17.53% in October to USD 21.35 billion, mainly due to a steep fall in shipments of petroleum products, iron ore and engineering, amid a broader demand slowdown.
The imports too shrank an annual 21.15% to USD 31.12 bn in October, narrowing the trade gap to USD 9.76 bn, from USD 13.57 bn in the same month last year.
Exports in October 2014 were valued at USD 25.89 billion. Gold imports during the month under review showed a sharp decline of 59.5% at USD 1.70 bn.
The cumulative exports during April-October this fiscal came down by 17.62 per cent to USD 154.29 billion as against USD 187.2 billion in the same period last year, according to data released by the Commerce Ministry.
The trade deficit during the first seven months of the current fiscal has shrunk to USD 77.76 billion as against USD 86.26 bn last fiscal. Oil and non-oil imports in October slid 45.31 per cent and 9.93 per cent to $6.84 billion and USD 24.2 billion, respectively. On the export front, shipments of petroleum products tumbled 57 per cent to USD 2.46 billion while those of iron ore sharply declined by 85.50% to USD 2.95 million. Engineering products were no exception, shipments of which took a knock of 11.65% at a USD 4.57 billion. In September, the country’s exports went down 24.33 per cent.
The country’s imports during April-October 2015-16 too declined by 15.17 per cent to USD 232 billion. Oil imports during the first seven months of the fiscal were valued at USD 54.97 billion which was 42.07 per cent lower than the imports of USD 94.89 billion in the corresponding period last year. Non-oil imports during the period dipped by 0.89 per cent to USD 177 billion. The Commerce Ministry data also said that services exports during September dipped to USD 13.32 billion as against USD 13.58 bn in August this year. Imports of services too decreased to USD 7.45 billion in September as against USD 7.77 billion in the previous month. The trade surplus was USD 5.86 billion in September.
Commenting on the exports figure, Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) said a 17.62 per cent dip in exports in April-October period is really a matter of concern.
“The current fiscal is proving to be one of the worst years for exporters who are facing a huge demand slowdown.”
Many of the SME exporters in the engineering sector are finding it difficult to survive given the kind of squeeze in the global trade,” it said in a statement. It said that there are no prospects of improvement in the immediate future. “The government should immediately help by way lowering interest rates by subventions and clearances of tax refunds without any delays. Besides, the procedural support at the customs will provide some healing touch,” the council added.
★ ★ ★
(Author is an Export Entrepreneur, Journalist, and Social Activist