Contracting for the third straight month, India’s exports slipped marginally by 0.8% in December 2020 even as the trade deficit widened to $15.71 billion due to the rise in imports.
Exports in December 2020 stood at $26.89 billion, as compared to $27.11 in the same month of 2019, according to the preliminary data released by the Commerce Ministry on Saturday.
The rate of contraction in the country’s outbound shipments has improved against a decline of 8.74% in November, mainly due to the increase in shipments of certain sectors such as gems and jewellery, engineering and chemicals.
After a gap of nine months, imports in December recorded a positive growth of 7.6% at $42.6 billion. In February 2020, it had registered a rise of 2.48%.
“India is thus a net importer in December 2020, with a trade deficit of $15.71 billion, as compared to a trade deficit of $12.49 billion, widened by 25.78%,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The trade deficit (the difference between imports and exports) at $15.71 billion was highest since July 2020. The country had witnessed trade surplus in June 2020.
In April-December 2020-21, the country''s merchandise exports contracted by 15.8% to $200.55 billion, as compared to $238.27 billion in the same period last fiscal.
Imports during the nine months of the current fiscal declined by 29.08% to $258.29 billion. It was $364.18 billion in April-December 2019-20.
In December 2020, oil imports declined by 10.37% to $9.61 billion. During April-December, the imports dipped by 44.46% to $53.71 billion, the Ministry said.
Major commodities which have recorded positive growth in exports during the month under review include oil meals (192.60%), iron ore (69.26%), carpets (21.12%), pharmaceuticals (17.44%), spices (17.06%), electronic goods (16.44%), fruits and vegetables (12.82%), and chemicals (10.73%).
Sectors that registered negative growth include petroleum products (-40.47%), oil Seeds (-31.80%), leather and leather manufactures (-17.74%), coffee (-16.39 %), ready-made garments of all textiles (-15.07%), man-made yarn/fabrics/made-ups (-14.61 per cent), marine products (-14.27%), cashew (-12.04%), plastic and linoleum (-7.43 %), and tobacco (-4.95%).
The major commodities imported with positive growth in December 2020 include pulses (245.15%), gold (81.82%), vegetable oil (43.50%), chemicals (23.30%), electronic goods (20.90%), machine tools (13.46%), pearls, precious and semi-precious stones (7.81%), and fertilisers (1.42%).
Sectors which recorded negative growth in December 2020 were silver, newsprint, transport equipment, cotton raw and waste, coal, coke and briquettes.
Commenting on the data, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Sharad Kumar Saraf said the marginal decline of just 0.8%is showing signs of revival as order booking positions have continuously improved.