Trade deficit narrows: Exports up 11% in March, 9% in FY19

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Published: April 16, 2019 4:09:04 AM

Merchandise exports in March stood at $32.55 billion against $29.32 billion in the same month last year. This is the best growth rate for exports since October 2018, when shipments grew by 17.86%.

Trade deficit narrows: Exports up 11% in March, 9% in FY19Trade deficit narrows: Exports up 11% in March, 9% in FY19

India’s exports rose to a five-month high of 11% in March on account of higher growth mainly in pharma, chemicals and engineeringsectors, marking the outbound shipments at $331 billion for FY18-19, official data showed on Monday.

Merchandise exports in March stood at $32.55 billion against $29.32 billion in the same month last year. This is the best growth rate for exports since October 2018, when shipments grew by 17.86%.

Imports rose by 1.44% to $43.44 billion in March 2019.

However, trade deficit — the difference between exports and imports — narrowed to $10.89 billion during the month under review against $13.51 billion in March 2018.

Oil and gold imports rose by 5.55% and 31.22% to $11.75 billion and $3.27 billion, respectively, in March 2019.

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For the full fiscal (2018-19), imports rose by 8.99% to $507.44 billion, widening the trade deficit to $176.42 billion against $162 billion in 2017-18. “Through secular growth over the last three financial years, following the major downturn in the face of the global slowdown, merchandise exports for 2018-19 are estimated at $331.02 billion, the highest ever, surpassing the earlier peak of $314.4 billion achieved in 2013-14. This has been achieved in a challenging global environment,” the commerce ministry said in a statement.

During the full fiscal, the sectors which recorded healthy growth include petroleum (28%), plastic (25.6%), chemicals (22%), pharmaceuticals (11%) and engineering (6.36%).

Data showed that oil imports in April-March 2018-19 grew by 29.27% to $140.47 billion while non-oil imports were up by 2.82% to $366.97 billion during that fiscal.

Commenting on the data, Trade Promotion Council Of India (TPCI) chairman Mohit Singla said despite global challenges, exports registered best ever performance. “There is a need to further focus on new products like food commodity so that the growth is more resilient and sustainable. Also, it will cushion our exports from the global volatility and shocks in the long run,” Singla said.

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) president Ganesh Kumar Gupta said exports grew despite major challenges including protectionism, tough global conditions and constraints on the domestic front. “We demand for immediate support like augmenting flow of credit, higher tax deduction for R&D, outright exemption from GST, interest equalisation support to agri exports, benefits on sales to foreign tourists to further boost exports,” Gupta said.

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