Exports continued to tumble for the eighth straight month in December 2012 falling 1.9 per cent to $24.88 billion compared with $25.36 billion in December 2011 as demand from major markets including the EU and Japan remained low.

Driven by petroleum purchase, imports during the month increased 6.3 per cent to $42.5 billion from $40 billion in December 2011 pushing up the trade deficit to $17.7 billion from $14.7 billion.

“Performance of exports in the last quarter of the fiscal depends on complex factors like how the world trade will move,’’ said Commerce Secretary S.R. Rao at a press conference on Friday.

World trade growth

Rao pointed out that the world trade growth in 2012 at 2.5 per cent was the lowest in the past 20 years. While the projections for the current year by the World Trade Organization were 4.5 per cent, much depends on how much it is scaled down in the months to come.

“Projections for 2013 have already been scaled down once from 5.2%,’’ he said.

Exports in the first three quarters posted a 5.5 per cent fall to $214.1 billion compared with $226.5 billion in the comparable period of the previous year.

“Of our top five export items, only the pharmaceuticals sector recorded a growth in exports,’’ Director General of Foreign Trade Anup Pujari said.

Exports of engineering goods, petroleum products, gems & jewellery, and textiles declined in the first three quarters.

Imports during the first three quarters posted a marginal decline of 0.7 per cent to $361.3 billion compared with $363.9 billion in the comparable period of the previous fiscal. Petroleum import was the only major sector that recorded postive movement growing 12 per cent to $124.5 billion.

Trade deficit during April-December, 2011-12 was $146.2 billion compared with $137.3 billion in the same period previous fiscal.

amiti.sen@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 10, 2013)
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