New Delhi: Export growth eased to a five-month low of 5.86 percent in November due to a fall in shipments of petroleum goods and rough diamonds, although the trade deficit narrowed as gold imports declined.
"Three product categories (petroleum goods, gems and jewellery and pharmaceuticals) have pulled down our exports," Commerce Secretary S R Rao said, adding that these sectors have a major contribution in the country's export basket.
India's exports stood at USD 24.6 billion in November 2013 as against USD 23.25 billion in the same month last year.
However, a 16.3 percent decline in imports particularly gold and silver during the month helped in narrowing the trade deficit to USD 9.21 billion in November, which is second lowest level during the ongoing fiscal.
In September, the trade gap fell to USD 6.76 billion.
Imports in November stood at USD 33.83 billion, which is the lowest figure since March 2011. Trade deficit in November 2012 was at USD 17.2 billion.
Gold and silver imports in November dipped by 80.49 percent to USD 1.05 billion from USD 5.4 billion in the same period last year. Oil imports too dipped by 1.1 percent to USD 12.96 billion during the month.
Rao said that gems and jewellery exports declined due to increase in the prices of rough diamonds.
"The cost of rough diamonds have gone up significantly as a result of which traders did not purchase the diamonds during November. And as regards to petroleum products, I believe couple of refineries were shut (due to maintenance). Also, there has been reduction in pharmaceutical exports," he said.
Commenting on the figures, Apparel Export Promotion Council Chairman A Sakthivel said in the coming months exports would pick up fast.
In April-November 2013, exports grew by 6.27 percent to USD 204 billion while imports aggregated at USD 304 billion. Trade deficit for the period stands at USD 100 billion.
Refined petroleum goods exports declined by 11.8 percent to USD 4.7 billion in November 2013 from USD 5.3 billion in the same month last year.
Rao said that pharma exports declined due to some domestic regulations.
"This is being caused by the fact that the domestic regulations of controlling drug prices for essential drugs...Importers worldwide are hammering down on prices of Indian drugs by stating that you (India) are selling the same drug domestically at 'X' cost, then sell us at the same rate," he added.
However, the Secretary exuded confidence that exports of petroleum products, gems and jewellery and pharmaceuticals would start picking up from December.
During April-November period this fiscal, gold and silver imports totalled USD 25.5 billion. It was USD 33.5 billion in the same period previous fiscal.
Non-oil imports in November declined by 23.69 percent to USD 20.86 billion. It was at USD 192.833 billion during the eight-month (April-November) period of this fiscal.
Oil imports during this period in the ongoing fiscal grew by 2.8 percent to USD 111.05 billion.
Rao expressed hope that India would achieve its USD 325 billion exports target for this fiscal.
Rafeeque Ahmed, President, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) too said the target will be achieved easily.
"Trade deficit will be within USD 140-150 billion range in the current fiscal which will help in keeping CAD (Current Account Deficit) between USD 50-60 billion," Ahmed added.
First Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 14:39