India’s exports shot up by over 58% to $34 billion in March, led by a jump in engineering, garments, iron ore and pharma, while imports rose 53% to $48 billion, preliminary data released by the commerce department showed. Trade deficit widened to over $14 billion in March 2021, compared to around $10 billion a year ago.
While the growth rate may have been boosted by the base effect, $34 billion exports in March 2021 is the highest monthly value of shipments out of the country. In March 2020, exports had dropped by 35% as the impact of Covid started showing, especially with the lockdown kicking in. In contrast, the fourth week of March 2021 witnessed a massive jump in exports, with March 21 seeing record exports from the country.
For the full year, however, exports dipped by 7.4% to $290 billion, compared to $313.4 billion in 2019-20, the data showed. During 2020-21, imports too contracted18% to $389 billion. PM NarendraModi ji’s policies have propelled Indian economy to historic new heights, despite the pandemic,” commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal tweeted. What was heartening for policymakers is the over 62% rise in non-oil exports to $31 billion in March.
“This (the rise in March exports) has been mainly on account of 28 out of 30 major product group of exports showing either a very impressive high positive growth starting with triple digit and almost all ending with a very high double digit growth, defying all the odds during these difficult times,” said Fieo president Sharad Kumar Saraf.
Global trade has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic with signs of a recovery visible now. In its latest projections, the World Trade Organisation said that global merchandise trade is expected to rise 8% in 2021, after declining last year. With the US and the European Union, two major markets for Indian exports, expected to see a rise in demand, India’s export prospects appear brighter. Fieo said that the government should aim for $350 billion exports during the 2021-22.