India’s exports continued the downhill journey declining for the eighth month in a row, registering a drop of 1.92 per cent in December 2012 at $24.8 billion.

This has led to widening of trade deficit to $17.6 billion. Exports in December 2011 stood at $25.3 billion. However, the decline is lower compared to November last year when shipments had declined by 4.17 per cent.

The contraction in the percentage of decline has raised hopes that exports could register a healthy or marginal growth in the January-March period.

On the other hand, imports grew by 6.26 per cent to $42.5 billion in December, 2012. During April-December this fiscal, shipments have shrunk by 5.5 per cent to $214.1 billion as compared to the same period last year. The contraction is slightly lower as compared to about 6 per cent in the April-November period.

Commerce Secretary S. R. Rao said “the fall in exports has been slightly arrested and with a new set of incentives, which we get into force from January 1, we expect that in the current quarter (January-March 2013), there will be a further improvement in the export performance”. Oil imports during December, 2012, were valued at $14429.7 million, 23.56 per cent higher than $11678.7 million in the corresponding period in the previous year. Oil imports during April-December 2012-13 were valued at $124520.8 million which was 12.18 per cent higher than $111002.9 million in the corresponding period in the previous year.

Non-oil imports during December, 2012, were estimated at $28119.8 million which was 0.87 per cent lower than $28365.4 million in December, 2011.  In April-December, 2012-13, these were valued at $236751.1 million against $252864.9 million in April-December, 2011-12, down 6.37 per cent.

Imports in the first nine months of this financial year dipped by 0.71 per cent to $361.2 billion.