Goods exports hit 12-month high of $41.68 billion in March

The goods trade deficit contracted to $15.6 billion in March, the lowest in 11 months.

April 15, 2024 06:29 pm | Updated 11:15 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Photo used for illustration purpose only.

Photo used for illustration purpose only. | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

India’s goods exports hit a 12-month high of $41.68 billion in March, although it constituted a 0.67% decline from last year’s tally, while imports dropped 6% to $57.3 billion last month. The goods trade deficit contracted to $15.6 billion in March, the lowest in 11 months.

The sharp drop in India’s import bill during March was led by gold imports, which fell a sharp 53.6% in March to $1.53 billion, and aided by a drop in non-oil, non-gold imports. However, silver imports jumped nearly 1059% to $816.6 million.

March’s relatively strong export tally, coming on the back of a $41.4 billion figure in February, lifted the generally weak merchandise shipments tally for 2023-24 somewhat. While goods exports in the first ten months averaged $35.4 billion, the last two months’ spike lifted the full year export figure to $437.1 billion, 3.1% below the record $451.1 billion performance in the previous year.

Goods imports dropped by a sharper 5.41% to $677.24 billion in 2023-24, which helped moderate India’s trade deficit for the year to $240.2 billion, 9.33% lower than the preceding year.

While official numbers for Services exports are only available till February, the Commerce Ministry estimated that they shrank 6.2% in March to $28.5 billion, while imports dropped 6.6% to $15.8 billion. Despite last month’s contraction, overall services exports are estimated to have risen 4.4% in 2023-24 to nearly $340 billion, while imports dropped 2.5% to $177.6 billion, the ministry said.

India’s overall merchandise and services exports are thus, reckoned to have risen 0.04% in 2023-24 to $776.68 billion, while total imports are estimated at $854.8 billion, reflecting a 4.81% decline over 2022-23, the ministry said.

The easing of the goods trade deficit last month isexpected to augur well for the current account balance in the final quarter of 2023-24, said ICRA chief economist Aditi Nayar. “We may witness a small, transient surplus of about $1-2 billion in the quarter,” she reckoned.

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