Exports enters negative zone in Oct; trade deficit widens

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

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

The October trade deficit has widened to a three-year high to $14.02 billion from $8.98 billion in September, while Oil imports rose by more than 27% as compared to the previous fiscal, the government data showed.

Exports during October 2017 were valued at USA $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. Exports following a growth of 7.89 percent increased to $1.9 billion in October 2017 from $1.8 billion in October 2016 while imports after a growth of 23.6 percent increased to $4.9 billion from $3.98 billion.

"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.

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"Implementation of the measures approved by GST Council is not taking place as a result challenges faced by the exporters remain the same", added FIEO chief.

Overseas shipments of several key sectors such as textiles, pharmaceuticals, leather and gems and jewellery recorded negative growth last month.

Segment-wise, the data showed that India's oil imports during October shot up by 27.89 per cent to $9.29 billion, from $726 billion in the same month past year.

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Exports of plastic and linoleum (24.5%), chemicals (22.3%), petroleum products (14.7%), engineering goods (11.7%) and marine products (8.52%) grew.

Cumulative exports during April-October 2017-18 increased by 9.62 per cent to $170.28 billion, while imports grew by 22.21 per cent to $256.43 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $86.14 billion. Aditi Nayar, principal economist with rating agency Icra, says: "Gold imports contracted in October despite onset of the festive and wedding season, given the build-up of substantial stocks over the past few months". "The sharp merchandise trade deficit for October 2017 and the rise in crude oil and other commodity prices portend a sequential uptick in the current account deficit for Q3 FY2018, despite the expectation of subdued gold imports", she said.

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