Contracting for the 11th month in a row, India’s merchandise exports fell 17.53 per cent in October to $21.35 billion, mainly due to a steep fall in shipments of petroleum products, iron ore and engineering, amid a broader demand slowdown.
The imports too shrank an annual 21.15 per cent to $31.12 billion in October, narrowing the trade gap to $9.76 billion, from $13.57 billion in the same month last year.
Exports in October 2014 were valued at $25.89 billion.
Gold imports during the month under review showed a sharp decline of 59.5 per cent at $1.70 billion.
The cumulative exports during April-October this fiscal came down by 17.62 per cent to $154.29 billion as against $187.2 billion in the same period last year, according to data released by the Commerce Ministry.
The trade deficit during the first seven months of the current fiscal has shrunk to $77.76 billion as against $86.26 billion last fiscal.
Oil and non-oil imports in October slid 45.31 per cent and 9.93 per cent to $6.84 billion and $24.2 billion, respectively.
On the export front, shipments of petroleum products tumbled 57 per cent to $2.46 billion while those of iron ore sharply declined by 85.53 per cent to $2.95 million.
Engineering products were no exception, shipments of which took a knock of 11.65 per cent at $4.57 billion.
In September, the country’s exports went down 24.33 per cent.
The country’s imports during April-October 2015-16 too declined by 15.17 per cent to $232 billion.
Oil imports during the first seven months of the fiscal were valued at $54.97 billion which was 42.07 per cent lower than the imports of $94.89 billion in the corresponding period last year.
Non-oil imports during the period dipped by 0.89 per cent to $177 billion.
The Commerce Ministry data also said that services exports during September dipped to $13.32 billion as against $13.58 billion in August this year.
Imports of services too decreased to $7.45 billion in September as against $7.77 billion in the previous month.
The trade surplus was $5.86 billion in September.
Commenting on the exports figure, Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) said a 17.62 per cent dip in exports in April-October period is really a matter of concern.
“The current fiscal is proving to be one of the worst years for exporters who are facing a huge demand slowdown.
Many of the SME exporters in the engineering sector are finding it difficult to survive given the kind of squeeze in the global trade,” it said in a statement.
It said that there are no prospects of improvement in the immediate future.
“The government should immediately help by way lowering interest rates by subventions and clearances of tax refunds without any delays. Besides, the procedural support at the customs will provide some healing touch,” it added.