India becomes a net importer in March, trade deficit widens to $14 billion
Shreya Nandi |
Last Updated at April 2, 2021 00:50 IST
India’s merchandise exports witnessed a huge jump of 58 per cent year-on-year (YoY) and touched a record $34 billion in March, indicating a recovery in demand, preliminary data released by the government showed. Sequentially, the growth in merchandise exports was 21 per cent.
However, for the whole of financial year 2020-21 (FY21) exports contracted 7.4 per cent YoY to $290.18 billion because of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Make in India, Make for the World: Merchandise exports in March 2021 grew by 58 per cent YoY to $34 billion, the highest ever in Indian history. PM Narendra Modi ji’s trade policies have propelled Indian economy to historic new heights, even amidst the pandemic,” Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted.
Imports grew 52.89 per cent YoY in March to $48.12 billion, compared with $31.47 billion a year ago. For the whole of FY21, it contracted 18.07 per cent to $388.92 billion.
Ajai Sahai, director-general (DG) and chief executive officer (CEO), Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), said the turnaround in exports was remarkable, despite challenges because of a shortage of containers and hike in freight.
“Exports are generally much higher during March, which is generally the peak season. Unfortunately, last year (in March) exports fell due to the lockdown. The growth (this year) is impressive despite the logistics-related challenges. We can look forward to taking our exports to $340-350 billion in the next financial year. We should aim for double-digit growth next year,” Sahai told Business Standard.
He also cautioned that such a high level of exports may not be sustainable every month. “But even if we have $30 billion of exports every month, we can reach $350 billion easily,” he said.
The top five commodity exports in March were other cereals (323.65 per cent growth), oil meals (228.4 per cent), iron ore (194.98 per cent), jute manufacturing including floor covering (105.19 per cent), and carpets (89.86 per cent), data showed.
As far as inward shipments were concerned, there was a decline in items such as silver (contracted 90.22 per cent), newsprint (down 50.66 per cent), transport equipment (32.73 per cent), project goods (32.56 per cent), and pulses (13.88 per cent) in March.
“Value of non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in March 2021 was $27.25 billion, compared with $16.95 billion in March 2020, a growth of 60.72 per cent. Non-oil, non-gems and jewellery (gold, silver & precious metals) imports were $27.01 billion in March, compared with $18.70 billion a year ago, also a growth of 44.45 per cent,” the commerce ministry said.
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