Exports surpass $300 billion target set for 2011-12

Braving the downturn in the United States and the economic slowdown in the eurozone, India, on Thursday, announced that it had surpassed the export target of $300 billion for 2011-12.

The rising trade deficit, touching $184.9 billion mark, was a worrying factor.

Briefing newsmen here, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said the country had been able to surpass the trade target of $300 billion despite slowdown in demand in its traditional markets of the U.S. and Europe.

Exports surged by 21 per cent to $303.7 billion in 2011-12 powered by a strong growth in petroleum, pharmaceuticals and engineering products.

India managed to go past the export target by adopting product and market diversification strategy.

However, imports surged by 32.1 per cent to $488.6 billion, leaving the highest-ever trade deficit of $184.9 billion. Interestingly, the government had set a target of $150 billion trade deficit.

“This is the highest-ever trade deficit and is a matter of serious concern,” Mr. Khullar said.

He said owing to the huge trade deficit, the current account deficit (CAD) is likely to be close to an uncomfortable 4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011-12.

“A country runs a CAD when its total import of goods, services and transfers are more than its total export of goods, services and transfers, in turn, making it a net debtor to the world,” he said.

The Commerce Secretary said, the year 2012-13 was going to be a difficult one for trade given the global slowdown.

“The export market effectively collapsed from September 2011 onwards,” he said. However, for the first time since September 2011, exports increased on a month-on-month basis in March 2012.

On imports, he said, gold imports were expected to come down due to the duties imposed in the recent Union Budget.

Engineering exports grew by 16.9 per cent to $58.2 billion. Exports of petroleum and oil products surged by 38.5 per cent to $57.5 billion and gems and jewellery exports increased to $45.9 billion, which is 13.3 per cent higher than in the previous year.

Other sectors which showed healthy performance included drugs and pharmaceuticals up 21.9 per cent at $13.1 billion; leather (up 22.5 per cent) at $4.2 billion; electronics (up 9.2 per cent) at $9 billion; cotton yarn and fabric made-up (up 17.4 per cent) at $7.2 billion, readymade garments yarns and fabrics (up 18 per cent) at $13.7 billion and marine products (up 31.4 per cent) at $3.4 billion.

Imports also registered a huge surge with petroleum, oil and lubricants going up by a steep 46.9 per cent to $155.6 billion largely due to increased prices in international markets. This has also been the main reason for widening deficit. Imports of gold and silver jumped by 44.4 per cent to $61.5 billion; while that of coal surged by 80.3 per cent to $17.6 billion.

Imports of machinery increased by 27.7 per cent to $35.4 billion; electronics goods by 23 per cent to $32.7 billion; iron and steel by 15 per cent to $11.9 billion; vegetable oil by 47.5 per cent to $9.7 billion; and fertilizer by 59 per cent to $11 billion. However, imports of gems and jewellery fell by 10.6 per cent to $31 billion.

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