India’s goods exports in March 2023 fell 13.9 per cent (year-on-year) to $38.38 billion pulled down by major items such as petroleum products, engineering goods, ready-made garments, and chemicals, as trade deficit increased to a three-month high of $19.73 billion, per government data.

Imports during the month declined at a lower 7.9 per cent (year-on-year) to $58.11 billion with a steep fall in commodities such as petroleum and coal, according to quick estimates on exports and imports released by the Commerce Department on Thursday.

In FY23, goods exports registered a modest 6.03 per cent growth to $447.46 billion, owing mostly to the growth registered in the first quarter. “Exports of goods from India started getting affected since July 2022, in step with a slowdown in world trade, as high global inflation, rising interest rates, and growing uncertainty in Western economies hit demand. We have our fingers crossed for the coming months,” a Delhi-based exporter told businessline.

Imports, meanwhile, increased 16.51 per cent to $714.24 billion during the last fiscal, thereby widening the trade deficit to $266.78 billion — an increase of 39.6 per cent over trade deficit of $191.05 billion recorded in the previous fiscal.

India’s combined exports of goods and services in March 2023 declined 7.53 per cent to an estimated $66.14 billion as services exports registered a 2.9 per cent increase to an estimated $27.75 billion (value of services exports is an estimation to be revised when RBI publishes data next month).

In FY23, combined exports of goods and services increased 13.84 per cent (year-on-year) to an estimated $770.18 billion, as exports of services grew by 26.79 per cent to an estimated $322.72 billion.

Adding momentum

“All credit to the economic management of the country that despite global headwinds and recessionary conditions, we not only achieved last fiscal’s export figures but surpassed it,” said Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal at a press briefing.

Exporters’ body FIEO has called for government support in providing further momentum to the sector. “The need of the hour is marketing support for further promoting Brand India products and services globally, GST exemption on freight on exports and provision of three-six months transition period whenever a major change is notified in the Foreign Trade policy so that the existing contract can be executed factoring the prevailing benefits,” said FIEO chief A Sakthivel.