Exports dipped again in November, but trade deficit eases 31% from record high

The trade deficit for November eased sharply to $20.58 billion from the all-time high of $31.5 billion in the previous month.

December 15, 2023 02:52 pm | Updated 07:16 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Representational image of paddy stocked at a market in Uttar Pradesh. Indian exports saw a decline in November 2023

Representational image of paddy stocked at a market in Uttar Pradesh. Indian exports saw a decline in November 2023 | Photo Credit: Reuters

India’s goods exports slipped back into contraction to drop 2.83% in November to $33.9 billion, while imports fell by a sharper 4.33% to $54.48 billion.

Exports had recorded only their second uptick this year in October, and though the value of outbound shipments was up 1.1% on a month-on-month basis, they still marked the second-weakest level since November 2022.

The trade deficit for November eased sharply beyond expectations to $20.58 billion from the all-time high of $29.91 billion recorded in October. November’s trade deficit is 6.7% lower on a year-on-year basis and 31.2% below October’s tally.

The originally estimated deficit of $31.5 billion for October was revised downward thanks to a $1.6 billion correction from the initially released import tally of $65.03 billion.

Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal asserted that trade is not one-way traffic and should be seen in a global context. “GDP growth is not high in many countries and interest rates have not gone down. Although global trade is suffering, we are holding fort and our exports have beaten the global trends in 2023 by a significant margin.”

“The green shoots we saw in the last couple of months have stabilised. Exports have been positive in November and higher than the overall exports of the same month last year,” he said, referring to the total tally of merchandise exports and estimated service exports last month.

While the actual services exports numbers will be available later, the Commerce Ministry pegged November’s intangible exports at $28.69 billion, 6.5% above last year, to put cumulative exports for the month at $62.6 billion, 1.2% higher than a year ago.

“India’s merchandise trade deficit unexpectedly shrunk in November, with a better-than-expected performance of exports resulting in a narrower deficit than our projection of $23.5 billion,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at rating major ICRA. Ms. Nayar expects the monthly trade deficit to hover in the range of $20 billion to 25 billion through the rest of 2023-24.

Between April and November 2023, merchandise exports from India are now 6.5% down at $278.8 billion, while imports have dropped 8.7% to $445.15 billion. At $166.35 billion, the trade deficit so far this fiscal is 12.1% below the same period last year when several commodity prices had shot up after the conflict in Ukraine. Officials reiterated that though the volumes of many major export goods had increased this year, their value had reduced due to the dip in global prices.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.