Exports spurt in Sept. but trade gap also widens

NEW DELHI NOV. 1. A spurt in exports in September has pushed the overall growth for the first six months of the current fiscal to double-digit figures. The April-September period has shown a ten per cent growth raising hopes that the 12 per cent target will be achieved this year. The Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Arun Jaitley, said the growth had been across the board in all sectors.

With the export outlook having picked up after dipping to 4.19 per cent in August, he told newspersons on the sidelines of a seminar that the increase has taken place despite the appreciation of the rupee against the dollar. He felt that the downturn in August was an exception while the spurt in September indicated a turnaround in the economy.

The foreign trade data released today by the Union Commerce Ministry shows imports are also rising rapidly with an increase of 16.25 per cent recorded in September and the overall growth rate for April-September being pegged at a healthy 21.42 per cent. Mr. Jaitley felt that the consistent rise in imports this year also reflected the revival of economic activity. He noted that the gems and jewellery sector was importing its requirements of gold and precious stones and exporting it after value addition. A similar situation was occurring in other sectors. He said imports of machinery and capital goods showed that economic and industrial activity was picking up which was a positive indicator.

The data on imports also show that the trade deficit for April-September has virtually doubled to $7.1 billion from $3.5 billion in the same period last year. This is a result of imports outpacing exports for the first six months of the current fiscal. The break-up of import data reveals that the rise in oil imports during April-September is only 6.34 per cent as against as much as 28 per cent in the case of non-oil imports.

The total imports during the period are valued at $34.5 billion as against $28.45 billion. Oil imports are estimated at $9.2 billion against $8.6 billion while non-oil imports are pegged at $25.3 billion as compared to $19.7 billion in 2002-03.

As for exports, these are valued at $9.2 billion during September this year representing an increase of 16.25 per cent over the level of $5.08 billion in the same month last year.

According to an official release, exports during April-September 2003-04 are valued at $27.4 billion, which is 9.99 per cent higher than the level of $24.9 billion recorded in the same period last year.

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