India's exports shrink for 1st time since Feb ’21

Wednesday 23rd November 2022 05:16 EST

The official data showed the exports contracted for the first time since February 2021 and imports grew at their slowest pace in 21 months, widening the trade deficit in October.

Exports fell 16. 5% to $29. 8 billion, while imports grew 5. 8% to $56. 7 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $26. 9 billion in October 2022, compared to $17. 9 billion a year ago.

Commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal blamed global headwinds and fewer working days in October for fall in exports but refused to give any forward guidance, arguing that the numbers need to be watched for some more time. Besides, he said, some of the sectors were also affected by checks on exports.

While pointing to lowering of growth projections by WTO, Barthwal said in order for Indian exporters to take advantage of the opportunity, he had asked his staff to look at the "hot places," such as North and Latin America, West Asia, and North Africa. Official data showed that during October, Netherlands, Brazil and Singapore were the only countries among the top 10 destinations where India’s exports had increased.

Electronic products were the only industry to defy the general downward trend among the key sectors, which also included gems and jewellery, engineering goods, chemicals, ready-to-wear apparel and medicines. Barthwal said increase in case of electronics was the result of the thrust on domestic manufacturing.

On the import front, fertiliser, petroleum, non-ferrous metals and machinery were among the prominent sectors to grow. Shipments from China, the US and Australia declined among the top 10 import sources, with Russia seeing a massive surge during October.

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