Trade deficit widens marginally to $13.7 b in April

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 15, 2018 Published on May 15, 2018

Containers stacked at the Haldia Dock Complex in Kolkata Port Trust. Overall in April, exports rose 7 per cent to ₹1,70,052 crore

High crude oil prices prove a dampener, but lower gold imports mitigate the gap

India’s trade deficit widened to $13.72 billion in April. This is $47 million higher than the $13.25- billion trade deficit reported in April 2017, according to data put out by the Ministry of Commerce.

The higher deficit is on account of the near doubling of crude oil prices. However, the deficit was mitigated by lower gold and jewellery imports.

In rupee terms, the trade balance widened by ₹4,564.98 crore in April to ₹90,031.71 crore, from ₹85,466.73 crore in April last year.

The import of petroleum, crude and products played a dampener and rose by 43.97 per cent to ₹68,344.24 crore. There was also a 35.51 per cent increase in the import of transport equipment that grew from ₹7,654.18 crore in April 2017 to ₹10,372.46 crore in April 2018.

An official statement said, “Oil imports during April were valued at $10.41 billion which was 41.49 per cent higher than oil imports valued at $7.36 billion in April 2017. The global Brent prices have increased by 35.20 per cent in April 2018 compared to April 2017 as per World Bank commodity price data.”

Non-oil imports during April were estimated at $29.21 billion, which was 4.30 per cent lower than non-oil imports of $30.53 billion in April 2017, the statement added.

There was a substantial dip in the import of jewellery during April. The import of pearls, precious and semi-precious stones was down by 35.32 per cent to ₹15,376.84 crore from ₹23,773.44 crore. Gold imports too fell by 31.88 per cent to ₹16,930.91 crore from ₹24,855.20 crore.

On the export front, there has been a 40.91 per cent increase in the export of organic and inorganic chemicals to ₹11,772.70 crore during April 2018 from ₹8,354.90 crore in April 2017. There was a substantial increase in the export of engineering goods that grew by 19.68 per cent to ₹47,186.80 crore from ₹39,425.90 crore in April 2017.

Overall in April, in rupee terms, exports rose 7 per cent to ₹1,70,052 crore compared to ₹1,58,913 crore in April 2017 while imports showed a 6.43 per cent rise at ₹2,60,084 crore (₹2,44,380 crore).

Not encouraging: FIEO

Reacting to the trade data, FIEO President, Ganesh Kumar Gupta, said it is not encouraging. “Almost all the labour-intensive sectors of export including gems and jewellery, leather and leather products, RMG of all textiles, jute manufacturing including floor covering, carpets, handicrafts, agri products and many other sector of exports, dominated by MSMEs are into negative territory,” he said adding that these sectors are still facing the problem of liquidity as banks and lending agencies have continuously been tightening their lending norms and flow of GST refund has also slowed down.

The FIEO chief also expressed his concern on the rising trade deficit, primarily on account of swelling of crude imports bill with further northward movement of prices, which may add to inflationary pressures.

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Published on May 15, 2018
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