India’s trade deficit for December fell to $10.14 billion compared with $17.19 billion a year ago as merchandise exports rose and imports fell.
Merchandise exports rose $26.35 billion during the month, while imports contracted 15.25% to $36.49 billion.
“Only one product group has contributed to slower growth in exports and that is petroleum products,” said SR Rao, commerce secretary.
The fall in petroleum products was due to an unplanned maintenance shutdown at Reliance Industries, one of the country’s largest exporters, Rao said.
Petroleum exports, registered a decline of 16% in December.
The decline in imports was led by a 68.83% year-on-year fall in gold and silver imports.
Gold and silver imports fell to $1.77 billion in December due to measures taken by the government to curb imports of the yellow metal.
Oil imports during the month stood at $13.8 billion, 1.1% higher than $13.75 billion during the same period last year. Non-oil imports during the month were $22.58 billion, 22.9% lower than $29.29 billion a year ago.
On the trade data, EEPC India, an apex body of the engineering exporters, said, “Export growth of 3.5%, though lower month on month, reflects turnaround in the external sector. Certain sectors like engineering have done well.”
Rafeeq Ahmed, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, said efforts were required to keep export growth in double-digits.
“The liquidity problem of the exporters needs to be addressed on priority basis so as to sustain exports,” said Ahmed.