Exports dip 2.6% in Sept, trade deficit at five-month low

Dip in imports led to trade deficit narrowing down by 31%, five month-low of $19.4 billion in September.
Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.

NEW DELHI: The country’s exports declined by 2.6% in September to $34.5 billion in September as compared to the same month in the previous year, commerce ministry data showed on Friday. This is the fifth month in FY24 when exports registered a decrease year-on-year (YoY) led by  affected sectors such as gems and jewellery, petroleum and chemicals, among others. Dip in imports led to trade deficit narrowing down by 31%, five month-low of $19.4 billion in September. During April-September of FY24, exports contracted by 8.77% to $211.4 billion and imports fell by 12.23% to $ 326.98 billion. 

Petroleum imports dipped 20.3% to $14 billion in September, while its exports fell by 10.6% to $6.49 billion. Gems and jewellery exports saw a fall of over 16% to $3.18 billion in September.  “Gems and jewellery segment is affected due to Russia-Ukraine conflict and now the Israel-Palestine war will have adverse impact. We don’t see much (impact) unless and until it gets escalated over a period of time so we are waiting and watching,” said commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal.

Notwithstanding the decline in trade, certain sectors including non-petroleum and non-gems/jewelry exports, engineering goods, marine products, electronic goods, ceramic products, drugs/pharma, and iron ore showed positive growth. Agricultural exports including spices, fruits and vegetables, oil seeds and coffee also registered growth during April-September 2023.

After a reconciliation process with Customs, revised data showed India’s exports for August 2023 estimated to be higher at $38.4 billion, indicating a growth of 3.88% as against the previous year. This revision comes after the initial announcement of a 6.8% fall in exports last month. 

Director General of Foreign Trade Santosh Sarangi highlighted said positive growth in August marks the first month of the current financial year with such progress. The commerce secretary expressed optimism, citing the resilience of services exports and the diminishing fall in merchandise exports. He anticipates positive growth in exports for the remaining six months of the year. Besides this, as per Barthwal, negotiation on the India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) is at an advanced stage and the Government is making efforts to iron out differences. 

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