India’s exports contracted 12.2 per cent to USD 34.48 billion in December 2022, mainly due to global headwinds, and the trade deficit widened to USD 23.76 billion during the same period, according to official data released on Monday.
Imports in December 2022 also declined 3.5 per cent to USD 58.24 billion as against USD 60.33 billion in the year-ago period.
In December 2021, exports stood at USD 39.27 billion and the trade deficit was at USD 21.06 billion.
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During April-December of this fiscal, the country’s overall exports rose 9 per cent to USD 332.76 billion while imports increased 24.96 per cent to USD 551.7 billion.
The merchandise trade deficit for the April-December 2022 period was estimated at USD 218.94 billion as against USD 136.45 billion in April-December 2021.
Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said that despite global headwinds, “India’s exports have held its head high”.
“There are recessionary trends globally. So lot of headwinds we are facing,” he said.
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In the first nine months of the current fiscal, crude oil imports rose 45.62 per cent to USD 163.91 billion as against USD 112.56 billion in the year-ago period.
Similarly imports of coal, coke and briquettes almost doubled to USD 40.55 billion during April-December 2022-23 as against USD 21.66 billion in the same period previous fiscal.
On the export front, engineering shipments declined about 12 per cent in December to USD 9.08 billion while exports of gems and jewellery in December fell 15.2 per cent to USD 2.54 billion.
Other export sectors which recorded negative growth in December 2022 include coffee, cashew, leather goods, pharma, carpet and handicrafts.
Petroleum products exports too contracted about 27 per cent to USD 4.93 billion in December last year.
The secretary said that measures like production-linked incentives for electronics sector is helping to push exports. Exports of electronic goods increased 51.56 per cent to USD 16.67 billion during April-December 2022-23.
Imports from Russia jumped four-times to USD 32.88 billion during the April-December 2022 period on account of the decision of the government to import more crude oil, taking advantage of the lower price.
As a result, the secretary said India has been able to export petroleum products significantly.
In December, oil imports rose about 6 per cent to USD 17.5 billion. Gold imports dropped 75 per cent to USD 1.18 billion.
Imports from China too rose about 12 per cent to USD 75.87 billion in April-December 2022 period. Exports to China, however, fell 35.58 per cent to USD 11 billion.
In April-December this fiscal, the US has emerged as the largest export destination with a growth of 6.8 per cent at USD 59.57 billion. It was followed by UAE, Netherlands, Bangladesh and Singapore.
Barthwal said the ministry is undertaking a detailed analysis country-wise as well as commodity-wise to resolve any issue of exporters and push shipments.
“We are in constant touch with all the export promotion councils,” he said.
“The resilient growth of the Indian economy during the first half of the current financial year, the fastest among major economies, bespeaks strengthening macroeconomic stability.
“However, global growth forecasts indicate downturn in global economic activity and trade,” the ministry said.
Further, it said that given the cumulative growth until December 2022 and the indicators of the slowdown in global economic activity, there is cautious optimism on international trade in the last quarter of the current financial year.
Sanjay Budhia , Chairman of CII National Committee on EXIM, said the decline in exports is to be expected given the monetary tightening by major large markets.
“Indian exporters are redoubling their efforts… even while the global economy slows down, India stands in a sweet spot and can build its exports in days to come,” Budhia added.