Exports up 4.32% in January, imports grow faster at 10.7%

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New Delhi | Published: February 16, 2017 7:35:11 AM

India’s merchandise exports grew 4.32% to $22.11 billion in January on the back of raw material shipments, including petroleum products and iron ore.

India’s merchandise exports grew 4.32% to $22.11 billion in January on the back of raw material shipments, including petroleum products and iron ore. This was the fifth straight month of expansion of exports — albeit at a slower pace than the previous month — which indicates demonetisation’s impact on India’s external trade has been marginal. Despite a slippage in gold imports, attributable to the note swap, imports rose a robust 10.7% to $31.96 billion, precipitating a trade deficit of $9.84 billion, higher than $7.66 billion in the corresponding month a year ago.

The rate of growth of non-oil-non-gold imports was 4.2% in January 2017, as against 4.4% in the previous month, aided by 47% increase in coal imports. Gold imports in January stood at $2.04 billion, down 29.94% from the year-ago month. Iron and steel imports also fell by 1.08% in January, aided by government policies to restrict cheap imports.

Non-petroleum exports in January were valued at $19.42 billion against $19.11 billion year-on-year, an increase of just 1.6%. Exports totalled $220.92 billion for the April-January period of the current fiscal, up about 1% over the year-ago shipments.

Responding to the trade data for the month of January 2017, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) president S C Ralhan said while continuous positive growth in exports for the last five months is encouraging, the slowdown in global trade was affecting the exports equally.

“Going by the current trend, we are expected to reach around $270 billion (exports) this fiscal,” Ralhan said.

India’s export growth is in tandem with global trade growth which is expected to be around 1.7% in 2016. Ralhan added that growth in exports of rice, spices, cashew, oil meals, marine products, engineering goods, organic and inorganic chemicals, augured well for the future. He added that increasing protectionism, volatility in currencies and uncertainties clouding over global economy pose major challenges for export sector in 2017.

The data revealed that iron ore exports jumped over 10 times to $184.43 million in January year-on-year. Export of petroleum products increased from $2.08 billion to $ 2.69 billion, a rise of 28.96%. Shipments of engineering goods from India in January rose to $5.45 billion, up 11.89%.

Services exports touched $13.8 billion in December from a year ago; services imports, however, rose to $8.3 billion in December.

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