India’s trade deficit narrows to $10.89 billion in March 2019

India’s exports rose to a five-month high of 11 per cent in March on account of higher growth mainly in pharma, chemicals and engineering sectors, marking the outbound shipments at $331 billion for FY 2018-19, official data showed.

Merchandise exports in March 2019 stood at $32.55 billion as against $29.32 billion in the same month last year. This is the best growth rate for exports since October 2018, when shipments grew by 17.86 per cent.

Imports rose by 1.44 per cent to $43.44 billion in March 2019.

However, trade deficit — the difference between exports and imports — narrows to $10.89 billion during the month under review as compared to $13.51 billion in March 2018.

Oil and gold imports rose by 5.55 per cent and 31.22 per cent to $11.75 billion and $3.27 billion, respectively in March 2019.

For the full fiscal (2018-19), imports rose by 8.99 per cent to $507.44 billion, widening the trade deficit to $176.42 billion as against $162 billion in 2017-18.

“Through secular growth over the last three financial years, following the major downturn in the face of the global slowdown, merchandise exports for 2018-19 are estimated at $331.02 billion, the highest ever, surpassing the earlier peak of $314.4 billion achieved in 2013-14. This has been achieved in a challenging global environment,” the commerce ministry said in a statement.

During the full fiscal, the sectors which recorded healthy growth include petroleum (28 per cent), plastic (25.6 per cent), chemicals (22 per cent), pharmaceuticals (11 per cent) and engineering (6.36 per cent). Data showed that oil imports in April-March 2018-19 grew by 29.27 per cent to $140.47 billion, while non-oil imports were up by 2.82 per cent to $366.97 billion during that fiscal.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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