India’s goods exports posted a marginal 1.08 per cent increase in April 2024 (year-on-year) to $34.99 billion, marking a tepid beginning to the new fiscal. While items such as electronics, chemicals, pharmaceutical and petroleum posted significant growth, some others like engineering goods, gems and jewellery and leather declined, per government data.

Imports during April 2024 registered a higher growth of 10.27 per cent to $54.09 billion, as items such as gold and petroleum surged, pushing trade deficit to a five-month high of $19.1 billion, according to quick estimates released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday.

“Start for the new fiscal is good. Hope the good omen continues for the entire fiscal,” Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said, adding that the industry seemed to be upbeat because of positive projections in their order books.

In financial year 2023-24, goods exports declined 3.11 per cent (year-on-year) to $437.06 billion as exporters battled an adverse geo-political situation marked by disruption in transportation and slowdown in demand from advanced countries.

‘Promising start’

The export figures for April 2024 offered a promising start for the fiscal which hopefully would continue the rest of the year, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said. WTO projection for the current year is also better.

“We hope that exports will start showing better growth numbers with improved demand in the European Union, UK, West Asia and the US. This has given a boost to the order bookings by over 10 per cent and has come as sign of recovery for labour-intensive sectors of exports including leather and leather products, footwear and apparels,” said Ashwani Kumar, President, FIEO.

Referring to the US government’s recent decision to impose penal tariffs on Chinese products including batteries, EVs, steel, solar cells, and aluminium, Kumar said the tariff war between US and China may come as an opportunity for Indian exporters. 

Thirteen of the 30 key export sectors posted growth in April 2024 including electronic goods (25.8 per cent), tea (25.74 per cent), organic & inorganic chemicals (16.75 per cent), coffee (15.87 per cent), tobacco (13.22 per cent), spices (12.27 per cent), drugs & pharmaceuticals (7.36 per cent), cotton yarn/fabs/made-ups (6.65 per cent), carpet (5.64 per cent), cereal preparations & miscellaneous processed items (5.33 per cent), petroleum products (3.1 per cent), plastic and linoleum (2.99 per cent) and handicrafts (2.36 per cent).

Items that witnessed a sharp rise in imports include gold (209 per cent), petroleum (20.22 per cent), vegetable oil (24.03 per cent), pulses (172 per cent), electronic goods (10 per cent) and pharmaceutical products (18.4 per cent).