Aug no different, exports dip for 9th month in row
Contracting for the ninth month in a row, India’s exports plunged by 20.66 per cent in August to $21.26 billion, widening the trade deficit. The significant slump in the country’s exports is attributed to global slowdown and declining commodity prices worldwide.
In August 2014, the merchandise exports had amounted to $26.8 billion. The last time exports registered a positive growth was in November 2014, when shipments had expanded at a rate of 7.27 per cent.
Imports too declined by 9.95 per cent to $33.74 billion in August this year due to high gold imports, leaving the trade deficit at $12.47 billion, according to the data released by the Commerce Ministry. However, the trade deficit has narrowed in August as compared with July this year, when the figure stood at $12.81 billion.
In August last year, the deficit was $10.66 billion.
Gold imports rose by 140 per cent to $4.95 billion in the month under review from $2.06 billion in August last year. The main exporting sectors which reported decline in exports include petroleum products (fall of 47.88 per cent), engineering (29 per cent), leather and leather goods (12.78 per cent), marine products (20.83 per cent) and carpet (22 per cent).
Exporters expressed concerns over the continuous decline. The government should immediately announce steps such as extension of interest subvention scheme to control this decline, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) president SC Ralhan said.
He said the Prime Minister and Commerce Minister must consult with export bodies and leading exporters to draw a road map for the sector. The softening of the prices of key agricultural and industrial inputs coupled with a contraction in global demand is the main cause for the dip in exports, he said.
Also, oil imports dropped 42.59 per cent in August to $7.35 billion. Oil imports account for about 31 per cent of the total imports. Petroleum product exports account for 18 per cent of the country’s total exports.
Non-oil imports, however, grew by 7.01 per cent to $26.38 billion.
Aditi Nayar, senior economist, ICRA, said the worsening contraction displayed by non-oil merchandise exports in August was a matter of concern, particularly given the widespread weakness across items, with pharmaceuticals and gems and jewellery among the few large sectors recording an expansion.
“Nevertheless, the fall in non-oil and non-gold imports limits the vulnerability related to the size of the current account deficit, which we continue to expect would shrink in 2015-16 relative to 2014-15”, she said.
During the first five months (April-August) of the current financial year, exports are down 16.17 per cent at $111.09 billion. Imports too have declined 11.61 per cent to $168.6 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $57.5 billion.