Trade deficit widens to 3-year high

A mobile crane carries a container at Thar Dry Port in Sanand in Gujarat India. Credit Reuters

Cumulative exports during April-October 2017-18 increased by 9.62 per cent to USD 170.28 billion, while imports grew by 22.21 per cent to USD 256.43 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 86.14 billion.

Exports during October 2017 were valued at United States $23,098.18 million as compared to $23,360.61 million during October 2016, registering a decline of 1.12%, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday.

"The contraction in merchandise exports in October partly reflects an unfavourable base effect, as well as upfronting of shipments to the previous month", she added.

Trade deficit in October 2017 over previous month increased to $3.041 billion, 8.68 percent higher over $2.798 billion for September 2017.

"There is an immediate need for remedial measures to prevent further decline in exports otherwise the situation may be worse for November", the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said in a statement.

Export of ready-made garments (39.2%), gems and jewellery (24.5%), and drugs and pharmaceuticals (8.8%) declined, Mint reported. The decline in these highly employment-intensive sectors is a worrisome sign, said Mr Gupta.

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Commenting on the data, exporters body FIEO said the fall was expected as exporters were facing liquidity problem to pay GST for four months in a row without getting any refund.

As a result, non-oil/non-gold imports rose only 4.9 per cent, sharply lower than the 19.8 per cent in September and 20 per cent in August, indicating industrial production would suffer again in October.

In October, petroleum, engineering and chemicals exports grew by 14.74 per cent, 11.77 per cent and 22.29 per cent, respectively.

Goods imports last month were $ 37.12 billion, a gain of 7.6% from a year ago, data from the commerce and industry ministry showed.

Rating agency Icra's principal, economist Aditi Nayar said that it is estimate every $1 increase in the price of the Indian crude oil basket would bloat annual net oil imports and the current account deficit by $1.2 billion.

The rising oil imports come at a time when the global crude oil prices are surging each day, pushing even fuel prices at home higher.

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