New Delhi: Continuing with its downward slide, exports dipped for the seventh month in a row in November by 4.17 percent to USD 22.3 billion, a development which may prompt government to come out with incentives by the weekend to boost shipments.
Exports in November, 2011 stood at USD 23.2 billion.
However imports grew by 6.35 percent to USD 41.5 billion in November, leaving a trade deficit of USD 19.28 billion.
During the April-November this fiscal, the country's shipments have shrunk by 5.95 percent to USD 189.2 billion.
Commenting on export slump, Commerce Secretary S R Rao said although the shipments are declining, the contraction has been slightly arrested during the first eight months of the fiscal.
During April-October period, exports were down by 6.18 percent.
"There has been a slight improvement...Hopefully the government is now coming out with a new package for boosting exports in the last quarter which the minister (Commerce Minister Anand Sharma) will be announcing towards the end of the week," Rao told reporters here.
He also hoped that in the last quarter of the fiscal (January-March), the exports performance will pick up.
The secretary added that the continuous rise in crude oil imports has pushed the import bill to USD 318.7 billion during April-November 2012.
"What is distressing is increased demand in petroleum products. Crude oil imports continue to be very high," he said adding it is a cause of worry as it impacts current account deficit.
Oil imports in November increased by 16.7 percent year- on-year to USD 14.5 billion. Non-oil imports grew by 1.5 percent to USD 27 billion.
The Commerce Ministry, according to an official, has proposed interest subsidy besides incentives for different sectors such as engineering, which are reeling under the impact of global economic slowdown.
During April-November 2012, oil imports grew by 10.8 percent to USD 110 billion. However, non-oil imports during the period dipped by 7 percent year-on-year to USD 208.6 billion.
During the period, trade deficit stood at USD 129.5 billion.
Giving sector-wise details, Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Anup Pujari said four of the top five exporting sectors have registered negative growth during April-November 2012. These are - engineering, petroleum products, gems and jewellery and readymade garments.
Only, pharmaceuticals export have recorded positive growth during the period. These five sectors contribute about 62 percent of the country's total shipments.
Region-wise, he said exports to West Asia, North America, Africa and Latin America grew by about 20 percent in November. However, in regions like Europe, North East Asia and South Asia, it declined by about 13 percent.
On imports, Pujari said that the top five products (crude oil, gold and silver, machinery, electronics and chemicals) showed mix trend during April-November period.
While imports of petroleum products and chemicals grew during the period, imports of gold and silver, machinery and electronics registered a negative growth.
These five sectors contribute about 62 percent in the country's total imports.
He also said that given the current scenario, the exports target of USD 360 billion is difficult to achieve.
Commenting on the export numbers, AEPC Chairman A Sakthivel said situation is the US and EU has not changed.
"Government should ease the procedure to import fabrics. It would help in boosting textiles exports," he said.
Echoing similar views, FIEO President M Rafeeque Ahmed said that these figures are reflection of contracting global demand.
Commenting on the export figures, Nomura said that "India?s external sector remains in a precarious state".
"We expect the current account deficit in FY'13 to be just as high as in FY'12 (4.2 percent of GDP) and ongoing strong portfolio flows are required to finance this deficit, which is a risk," it added.
It said that the trade deficit improved marginally to USD 19.3 billion in November from an all-time high of USD 21 billion in October.
BNP Paribas said that India?s trade deficit in November was close to record highs.
"The trade data suggest the next few quarterly current account releases will see the deficit widen, leaving India heavily reliant on hot money flows to cover the balance of payments," it said.
"These deficit figures imply the INR (domestic currency) will remain acutely vulnerable to any slowing in the pace of hot money inflows," it added.
BNP Paribas said that unless net FDI inflows pick up decisively, portfolio flows will need to be maintained at their current high levels to avoid renewed balance of payments strains and fresh downward pressure on the rupee.