After 13-month recovery, exports fall 1.1% to $23 bn

India’s exports fell 1.1% in October to $23.1 billion while imports expanded at the slowest pace in 10 months at 7.6% to $37.1 billion. India’s trade deficit in the month was $14 billion

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.

The trade deficit widened to nearly three-year high of United States dollars 14 billion during the last month as against USD 11.13 billion in October 2016 as imports surged.

The trade deficit for October 2017 was estimated at $14,018.83 million as against the deficit of $11,134.48 million during the corresponding period in 2016, the ministry said.

Imports of coal (66.3%), petroleum, crude and products (27.9%), chemicals (30.5%), machinery (17.4%), and electronics goods (7%) expanded in October.

Industry lobby group FIEO blamed liquidity problems faced by exporters after GST rollout for the fall and said that refunds had not flowed for four months.

Goods imports were up 7.6 percent from a year earlier to $37.12 billion.

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T.S. Bhasin, chairman of the apex engineering exporters body, EEPC India, said in a statement that "the setback can be traced to disruptions due to roll-out of the GST that resulted in squeezing of working capital for exporters".

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.

Export declined by 1.12 per cent to $23 billion in October, retreating from a six-month high growth in September as shipments of textiles, pharmaceuticals, leather and gems and jewellery fell.

Ironically, exports fell in a month when the GST Council addressed most of the complaints of exporters, though one important measure, e-wallets, would kick in only by the next financial year. It had stood at almost $9 billion in September and $11.1 billion in the year-ago period.

While petroleum exports in October grew by 14.74 per cent, engineering was up 11.77 per cent and chemicals exports rose 22.29 per cent. "The global Brent prices ($/bbl) have increased by 15.87% in October 2017 vis-à-vis October 2016 as per World Bank commodity price data (The pink sheet)", the ministry said.

Oil and non-oil imports grew by 27.89 per cent and 2.19 per cent to Dollars 9.28 billion and USD 27.83 billion, respectively in October.

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