India's exports rose for the second straight month in January, while the trade deficit narrowed during the period under review, showing signs of uptick in economic activity. The country's exports grew by 6.16 per cent to $27.45 billion in January 2021 as compared to $25.85 billion in the same period last year. This was attributed to growth in pharmaceuticals, iron ore and engineering sectors. In rupee terms, exports grew by 8.84 per cent to Rs 2 lakh crore in January 2021, as compared to Rs 1.84 lakh crore in the same period last year.
Meanwhile, imports also remained positive for second month in January 2021, growing by 2.03 per cent to $41.99 billion as against $41.15 billion in January 2020. After a gap of nine months, imports recorded a positive growth of 7.6 per cent at $42.6 billion in December. In rupee terms, imports grew by 4.6 per cent to Rs 3.06 lakh crore, from Rs 2.93 lakh crore in the same period last year.
As a result, trade deficit, the difference between exports and imports, narrowed to $14.54 billion as compared to $15.3 billion in the corresponding period last year. Taking merchandise and services together, overall trade deficit for April-January 2020-21 was estimated at $1.87 billion as compared to the deficit of $72.40 billion in April-January 2019-20.
However, on cumulative basis, exports dipped by 13.58 per cent to $228.25 billion during April-January period of the current fiscal, while imports declined by 25.92 per cent to $300.26 billion.
Top five commodity groups of export, which recorded positive growth during January 2021 vis-a-vis January 2020, were other cereals (343.57 per cent), oil meals (257.50 per cent), iron ore (108.84 per cent), cereal preparations and miscellaneous processed item (44.88 per cent), and jute manufacturing including floor covering (27.68 per cent).
Meanwhile, the top 5 commodity groups of import which declined in January 2021 vis-a-vis January 2020 were petroleum, crude & products (-27.72 per cent), transport equipment (25.26 per cent), fertiliser, crude and manufactured (11.57 per cent), metaliferrous ores and other minerals (4.57 per cent) and machinery, electrical and non-electrical (1.37 per cent).
Oil imports were $9.40 billion, 27.72 per cent lower compared to $13.01 billion in January 2020. In this connection it was mentioned that the global Brent price ($/bbl) has decreased by 14.23 per cent in January 2021 vis-a-vis January 2020 as per data available from World Bank.