An over six-fold jump in gold imports resulted in overall imports recording a 27% year-on-year jump in November, in turn widening the country’s trade deficit to an 18-month high of $16.86 billion in the month, sparking fresh worries over the current account deficit (CAD).
In the second quarter ended September 30, the CAD stood at a five-quarter high of $10.1 billion or 2.1% of gross domestic product owing mainly to an increase in merchandise imports propelled by rising demand for the yellow metal, while export growth remained slow.
Gold imports in November were $5.61 billion as against $836 million in the same month last year. While oil imports fell by 9.7% to $11.71 billion in the month, thanks to a fall in global crude oil prices, non-oil imports, including capital goods, recorded 49.6% growth to $31.10 billion.
This resulted in total imports in the month registering 26.79% growth to $42.82 billion.
The imported goods sectors that registered high year-on-year growth included those from segments such as fertilisers (136% growth to $1.1 billion), gold (571%), silver (144% to $644 million), coal (44% to $1.8 billion), chemicals (16% to $1.6 billion), pearls and precious stones (37% to $2.1 billion) and iron and steel (62% to $1.4 billion).
Machinery, electrical and non-electrical imports rose 20.3% to $2.5 billion, while transport equipment imports grew 23% to $2 billion.
Electronic goods also registered 29.5% jump to $3 billion.
Meanwhile, exports grew by 7.27% to $25.96 billion after shrinking by a little over 5% in October. The sectors that have fared well include engineering goods (30% growth to $6.6 billion), gems and jewellery (44% to $3.7 billion), chemicals (16% to $1.1 billion) and drugs and pharma (9% to 1.2 billion).
Owing to weak demand overseas, several sectors registered low or negative growth, including electronic goods, petroleum products and farm products. Petro products exports shrunk by 14% to $4.1 billion.
During the fiscal so far, imports grew 4.65% to $316.37 billion, while exports were up 5.02% to $215.75 billion. The trade deficit during April-November this fiscal was $100.61 billion as against $96.89 billion in the corresponding period last fiscal.