New Delhi: India's exports growth rate recorded a marginal increase in January over the previous month with the overseas shipments expanding by 10.1 percent year-on-year to USD 25.4 billion despite weak demand in the western markets.
Pushed by expensive crude oils and vegetable oils, imports grew at a faster rate of 20.3 percent to USD 40.1 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 14.7 billion, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters here while giving provisional figures Thursday.
The shipments had grown by 6.7 percent year-on-year in December 2011.
According to Khullar, the problems in the US and Europe are clearly weighing down on the country's exports.
From a peak of 82 percent in July 2011, export growth has slipped to 44.25 percent in August 2011, 36.36 percent in September 2011 and 10.8 percent in October last year.
But, for the cumulative April-January period, exports aggregated to USD 242.8 billion showing a healthy growth of 23.5 percent, thanks to sterling trend witnessed in the previous months of the current fiscal.
"What you are looking at now, is exports for the fiscal of around USD 300 billion, imports at about USD 460 billion with a balance of trade of about USD 160 billion," he said.
Steady rise of 29.4 percent in imports for the ten-month period to USD 391.5 billion has left trade gap widening to USD 148.7 billion.
"Imports are still buoyant because of high prices of crude oil and vegetable oil...trade deficit is large but my guess is that it will narrow down in the next two months," he added.
He also said that 2012-13 would be difficult year for exporters.
Exporting sectors which registered healthy growth in April-January include engineering and petroleum.
Engineering and petroleum exports grew by 21 percent and 51.1 percent to USD 49.7 billion and USD 48.9 billion, respectively.
Gems and jewellery exports increased by 33 percent to USD 37 billion, readymade garments by 21.5 percent, electronics by 13.4 percent, drugs by 21.1 percent, leather by 23.4 percent and marine products by 31.6 percent.
On the other hand, imports of petroleum products increased by 38.8 percent to USD 117.9 billion, gold and silver by 46.6 percent to USD 50 billion, machinery (25.8 percent), electronics (22.9 percent), coal (69 percent), iron and steel (12 percent), ores and scraps (43.9 percent).
Commenting on the fiscal year 2012-13, Khullar said that due to reasons like prevailing uncertainty in the US and Europe economy, that year would also be difficult for India's exports.
"Consumers and investors confidence are also not booming. My fiscal room for manouver has gone. You have a tight fiscal situation, who is going to give you sops. If you will manage 20 percent growth in 2012-13, it will be damn good," he said.
For the current fiscal as well, he said at time when the forecast for global trade growth is in single digit, India's exports growth is good.
FIEO President Rafeeque Ahmed too said that these figures clearly indicate that 2012 would be a difficult year for exports in view of growing uncertainty in the Euro Zone, slacking of demand in other advance economies and third country effect on our exports to emerging economies.
Ahmed suggested the government to provide interest subvention of over 3 percent to bring the export credit at affordable rates.
First Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012, 11:43