India’s goods exports surged to $37.29 billion in December, the highest ever monthly performance, posting a year-on-year growth of 37 per cent, with top sectors such as petroleum, gems & jewellery, engineering products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and textiles taking the lead.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said the country is well on its way to achieving the $400-billion export target set for 2021-22 although the fast spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19 could lead to hiccups in shipping and container availability.

Sharp rise in imports

India’s imports, too, increased sharply, by 38.06 per cent, in December to $59.27 billion widening the trade deficit to $21.99 billion compared to $15.72 billion in December 2020.

Exports in the April-December period at $299.74 billion were up 48.85 per cent over the corresponding previous period.

“We have created a historic record… We are hopeful of achieving the target of $400 billion set for the ongoing fiscal,” Goyal said at a press conference on Monday.

The country’s highest annual export so far was in 2018-19 at $330 billion, while the previous monthly high was in March 2021 at $34 billion.

To maintain the export momentum, exporters body FIEO said the government should soon announce extension of the interest equalisation scheme and expand usage of the RoDTEP and RoSCTL input duty remission schemes.

Imports in April-December were $443.71 billion, an increase of 69.27 per cent over the same period of FY21. The trade deficit in the period more than doubled to $143.97 billion over the corresponding previous period. Petroleum products, electronic goods, machinery, chemicals, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones and gold led the imports.

The value of non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in December was $28.69 billion, a growth of 28.64 per cent over December 2020. This shows that the rise in exports was spread across sectors beyond the two high-value items.

Non-petroleum imports, at $43.37 billion in December, were 30.22 per cent higher over that in December 2020.

The Minister said that India’s diplomatic missions in various countries had extended a hand to exporters by identifying newer items with export potential.