New Delhi: Exports dipped for the 14th month in a row, down 13.6 percent in January to USD 21 billion due to fall in shipments of petroleum and engineering goods, although trade deficit showed improvement.
Imports shrank 11 percent to USD 28.71 billion last month, resulting in a trade deficit of USD 7.63 billion, lowest in eleven months. In February last year, the deficit was USD 6.85 billion.
The deficit would have been lower if gold imports hadn't shot up 85.16 percent last month to USD 2.91 billion.
Overseas shipments of petroleum products shrank 35.18 percent to USD 1.95 billion in January, while that of engineering goods declined by 27.6 percent to 4.98 million.
For the first 10 months of the current fiscal, cumulative exports declined by 17.65 percent to USD 217.67 billion, as against USD 264.32 billion in April-January period of 2014-15.
As per the data released by the Commerce Ministry, imports dipped by 15.46 percent to USD 324.52 billion for the 10 months, leaving a trade deficit of USD 106.8 billion. The trade gap was USD 119.55 billion in April-January 2014-15.
Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said that going by the trend, "we may end up the fiscal with around USD 260 billion".
"Problem of transfer of shipping bill, delay in release of duty drawback and interest subsidy has seriously affected the liquidity of exporters," it said in a statement.
Co-Chairman - CII National Committee on International Trade Policy and Exports Sanjay Budhia said that duty drawback rates should be restored to their original level to compensate for all taxes, duties to boost exports.
Oil imports last month were valued at USD 5.02 billion - 39.01 percent lower than the same month last year. Non-oil imports too dipped by 1.4 percent to USD 23.68 billion.
The other exporting sectors which recorded negative growth in January include rice (33.46 percent), cashew (24.6 percent), oil meals (77.57 percent), marine products (12.29 percent), leather (12.1 percent) and textiles (6.11 percent).
Similarly, the sectors where imports shrank include raw cotton (8 percent), coal & coke (38.36 percent), chemicals (12.87 percent), iron & steel (16.35 percent) and electronic goods (2.22 percent).
During April-January 2015-16, oil imports declined 41.43 percent to USD 73 billion. Non-oil imports during the period too dipped by 2.95 percent to USD 251.43 billion.
"The decline in manufacturing growth and more particularly double digit decline in capital growth manufacturing should be viewed seriously as the same with decline in imports of key raw material does not augur well for future exports as well," FIEO said.