India’s merchandise exports inches up in April; trade deficit widens

Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) President Ganesh Kumar Gupta

New Delhi,  India’s merchandise exports inched up 0.64 per cent, on a year-on-year basis in April, to $26.07 billion from $25.91 billion reported for the corresponding month of last year, official data showed on Wednesday.

As per the data furnished by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, petroleum products, electronic goods, organic and inorganic chemicals and drugs and pharmaceuticals showed high export growth during the month under review.

However, non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in April fell by 1.31 per cent to $19.54 billion from $19.80 billion.

On the other hand, imports grew by 4.48 per cent to $41.40 billion, from $39.63 billion reported for the corresponding month of 2018.

Segment-wise, oil imports in April were $11.38 billion, which was 9.26 per cent higher in dollar terms, compared to $10.41 billion in April 2018, the ministry said.

Non-oil imports in April 2019 were estimated at $30.02 billion which was 2.78 per cent higher in dollar terms, compared to $29.21 billion in April 2018, it said.

Additionally, the trade deficit during the month under review widened to $15.33 billion as against the deficit of $13.72 billion in April 2018. On an overall basis, India’s exports including merchandise and services in April are estimated to have grown by 1.34 per cent to $44.06 billion over April 2018.

“Overall imports in April is estimated to be $52.83 billion, exhibiting a positive growth of 4.53 per cent over April 2018,” the ministry said.

Commenting on the latest trade figures, the Federation of Indian Export Or ganisations (FIEO) President Ganesh Kumar Gupta said the export data of $26.07 billion with a growth of 0.64 per cent “is not at all encouraging as almost all the labour-intensive sectors, including leather and leather products, gems and jewellery, engineering goods… dominated by MSMEs are into negative territory”.

“These sectors are still facing the problem of liquidity besides various other challenges, including global trade war, protectionism, fragile global conditions and constraints on the domestic front,” Gupta was quoted as saying in a statement.

Besides, Gupta expressed his concerns on the rising trade deficit primarily on account of swelling crude and gold import bills.

In addition, the FIEO Chief opined that with rising trade tensions between US and China, the global trade scenario may further worsen, putting more pressure on Indian exports in months to come.