India’s exports barely inched into the positive zone, after a gap of eight months, recording a meagre 0.82 per cent growth at $25.58 billion in January. The growth, however, is unlikely to help in reaching the $350 billion export target for 2012-13.

The positivity in exports has come mainly on account of better performance by sectors such as engineering goods, textiles and gems and jewellery. Exports have been contracting since May 2012. The trade deficit also continues to be a cause of concern, soaring to a three-month high of $20 billion. “I hope with exports growing marginally in January, it should help India in narrowing the trade gap at the close of the fiscal,” Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma said in a statement here.

The country's exports stood at $25.37 billion in January, 2012. Imports, too, rose by 6.12 per cent to $45.5 billion in the month under review. However, during the April-January period of 2012-13, the country's overseas shipments shrunk by 4.86 per cent to $239.6 billion.

Commerce Secretary S.R. Rao told journalists here that the export performance in January had shown marginally better resultsand cumulative exports too had shown a slight arrest. Mr Rao said he hoped that the incentive package, which came into force in January, would help the country's exports improve significantly in the coming months. “In the last couple of months, there has been an arrest in the fall of exports,” he said.In October 2012, India's exports declined to 1.63 per cent from 11 per cent in September. In December, shipments declined by 1.9 per cent from 4.17 per cent in November 2012. Imports during the 10-month period rose by 0.01 per cent to $406.8 billion. Trade deficit during the period stood at $167.16 billion. “The most worrying aspect as usual is the widening trade deficit. Figures show that there is a substantial increase in the imports of petroleum and crude oil which is widening the trade deficit,” Mr. Rao said.

Since April 2012, petroleum and crude oil imports too have shown an increase. While in August the imports grew by 3 per cent, in September it jumped by 30 per cent and in October by 31 per cent. In November, December and January, petroleum and crude oil imports went up by 16.8 per cent, 23.6 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

Mr. Rao said these imports were increasing mainly because of its high use in power generation. “Unfortunately, at least in 3-4 states power situation is adverse. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, power cuts are very distressing and it is close to 16 hours,” he said.

The export sectors, which registered positive growth, cumulatively include rice, tobacco, oil meals, carpet, pharmaceuticals and drugs. Fall in the exports of engineering, textiles and gems and jewellery, the main contributors, have also been arrested. Engineering exports declined by 4 per cent, while gems and jewellery and textiles exports shrunk by 0.6 per cent and 8 per cent during April-January. Oil imports in January grew by 6.91 per cent to $15.89 billion from $14.87 billion in the corresponding period last year. Non-oil imports, too, increased by 5.71 per cent during the month under review to $29.68 billion.

During April-January 2012-13, oil imports grew by 11.56 per cent to $140.42 billion from $125.87 billion in the corresponding period of previous fiscal year. However, non-oil imports during the period declined by 5.17 per cent to $266.43 billion.

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