Amid global slowdown and weak domestic demand, India's merchandise exports declined marginally while imports fell by a sharp 16 percent in October on a year-on-year basis, according to official figures released on Friday.

As per the data furnished by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, October exports were marginally down to $26.38 billion from $26.67 billion reported for the corresponding period of the previous year.

However, on a sequential basis, exports were higher than $26.03 billion worth of merchandise that was shipped out in September.

"Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in October were $19.04 billion, as compared to $18.93 billion in October 2018, exhibiting a positive growth of 0.59 per cent," the ministry said in a statement.

On the other hand, imports declined by 16.31 per cent to $37.39 billion in October from $44.68 billion reported for the corresponding month of 2018.

"Oil imports in October 2019 were $9.63 billion, which was 31.74 per cent lower in dollar terms, compared to $14.11 billion in October 2018," the ministry said.

"Non-oil imports in October 2019 were estimated at $27.76 billion which was 9.19 per cent lower in dollar terms, compared to $30.57 billion in October 2018."

According to the ministry data, non-oil and non-gold imports declined by 10.04 per cent to $25.92 billion in October 2019 from $28.82 billion in October 2018.

Consequently, the trade deficit in October narrowed to $11.01 billion as against the deficit of $18 billion in the corresponding period of 2018.

"The sharp slide in the merchandise trade deficit in October 2019 relative to October 2018 was primarily driven by a considerable reduction in imports of petroleum products, led by both prices and volumes, as well as various industrial inputs, and some consumer items," said Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA.

"Non-oil, non-gold merchandise imports recorded a substantial 10 per cent reduction in October 2019, driven by a variety of items, including industrial inputs such as iron and steel, coal, minerals and ores, and metals, as well as items such as transport equipment, electronic goods, silver and precious and semi precious stones."

Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) India Chairman Ravi Sehgal said: "Negative exports for October,2019 have not come as a surprise, amidst global slowdown, particularly in the main destinations of Indian exports.

"However, the pace of de-growth for October has come down, month-on-month, while engineering exports have recorded a marginal growth as well."

Overall, the picture remains challenging, he said, urging the government and the RBI to take measures to improve competitiveness of Indian exports.

Published On : 15-11-2019

Source : SME Times

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