Exports dip 1.9% for eighth month in a row

Exports continued to tumble for the eighth consecutive 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 monthly trade deficit to $17.7 billion from $14.7 billion.

Outlook for the last quarter of the fiscal is uncertain as world trade continues to be rocky, Commerce Secretary S.R. Rao said at a press conference on Friday.

“World trade growth in 2012 at 2.5 per cent was the lowest in the past 20 years which affected exports from India,” Rao said.

While projections for the current year by the World Trade Organisation was 4.5 per cent, much depends on how much it is scaled down in months to come, he added. Projection for 2013 has already been scaled down once from 5.2 per cent.

Exports in the first three quarters posted a 5.5 per cent fall to $214.1 billion ($226.5 billion).

“Of our top five export items, only the pharmaceuticals sector recorded a growth in exports,” Director- General of foreign trade Anup Pujari said.

There was a decline in exports of the remaining four categories that include engineering goods, petroleum products, gems & jewellery, and textiles.

The Government, however, does not want to change its annual export target of $340 billion, although Rao added that it would be difficult to achieve.

Exporters, too, find the target unrealistic.

“Even reaching last year’s export figure (of $304 billion) seems ambitious,” FIEO President Rafeeque Ahmed said.

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

Trade deficit widens

Trade deficit in the April-December 2012 period was $146.2 billion ($137.3 billion).

“Continuous growth in trade deficit is worrying as it is putting pressure on current account deficit and our balance of payments position,” another official said.

(This article was published on January 11, 2013)
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