The country's exports contracted for the fifth month in a row by 1.8 per cent in December 2019 to $27.36 billion, according to data released by the commerce ministry on Wednesday. Imports were also down 8.83 per cent at $36.61 billion over the total imports in December 2018. Non-petroleum, non-gems and jewellery exports in December last year stood at $21.05 billion compared to $21.16 billion during the same period a year before, exhibiting a 0.54 per cent decline.
India's trade deficit for the month also declined to $11.25 billion as against the deficit of $14.49 billion in December 2018. Taking into account merchandise and services, the overall trade deficit for the April-December 2019-20 amounts to $57.66 billion, which is less than $89.46 billion in the same period last year.
Oil imports in December 2019 stood at $10.69 billion, down 0.83 per cent from $10.78 billion during the same period last year. The decline in oil imports is attributed to a sharp rise in the global Brent price by 16.63 per cent in December 2019.
Non-oil imports in December 2019 were estimated at $27.92 billion, which is 11.56 per cent lower than December 2018. The non-oil and non-gold imports saw 12.24 per cent decline at $25.45 billion. The estimated values of services exports and imports stand at $17.92 billion and $11.32 billion, respectively, in December 2019.
Meanwhile, an RBI release showed that services export for November 2019 stood at about USD 18 billion while imports were at USD 11.5 billion.
Commenting on the figures, Apparel Export Promotion Council of India (AEPC) Chairman A Sakthivel said the government support will help the industry to further push the exports. "Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies Scheme (RoSCTL) and Merchandise Export from India scheme will five a much needed support to apparels and made ups sector," he said.
Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Sharad Kumar Saraf said that global and domestic factors have again led to decline in exports. The currency volatility besides fluctuation in commodities prices including that of crude have led to the decrease in exports of petroleum, which is a major constituent of exports.
"Domestic issues including uncertainty over MEIS was a major cause of concern as exporters' claim for over five months are still pending, which has completely wiped out their liquidity and has kept them in doldrums with regard to finalising new contracts," Saraf said.
Edited by Manoj Sharma with PTI inputs