October exports 5% higher than previous month, deficit cools

Coal and gold imports more than doubled during October, rising by nearly 119% and 104%, respectively, from a year ago

India’s merchandise exports were $35.47 billion in October, 35.2% higher than the pre-pandemic level of 2019 and 42.3% above the same month in 2020. However, imports grew faster to $55.37 billion, 62.5% higher than a year ago and 45.8% over October 2019.

On a month-on-month basis, October’s merchandise exports were almost 5% higher than September’s $33.8 billion figure, as per preliminary estimates released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry on Monday.

Coal and gold imports more than doubled during October, rising by nearly 119% and 104%, respectively, from a year ago. Imports of vegetable oil also jumped almost 60% from October 2020.

The trade deficit for October more than doubled from a year ago to $19.9 billion but was lower than the record deficit of $22.6 billion in September 2021. For the first seven months of the year, India’s cumulative trade deficit now stands at $98.71 billion.

“Encouragingly, non-oil exports rose to a seven month high $30.3 billion in October, 30% higher from a year ago, with two-thirds of the absolute increase concentrated in engineering goods and gems and jewellery,” said ICRA chief economist Aditi Nayar.

“A sustenance of healthy exports growth will be crucial to contain the current account deficit in light of the recovery and commodity price-led surge in merchandise imports,” she said, adding that oil imports also dipped after a spike in September and non-oil, non-gold imports rose further to account for $35.8 billion of total imports.

Leaving out petroleum products, the sharpest growth in exports was recorded in electronic goods (40.35%), engineering goods (36.7%) and chemicals which grew nearly 30%. While the employment-intensive readymade textile garments saw outbound shipments rising 26.3% in October, drugs and pharmaceutical exports dipped nearly 8.5% from October 2020 levels.

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