Export falls for 5th month in Dec, drop 1.8%; trade deficit narrows

New Delhi: India's exports dropped 1.8% to USD 27.36 billion in December 2019, the fifth straight month of contraction, on account of a significant fall in shipments of plastic, gems and jewellery, leather products and chemicals.

Imports too fell for the seventh consecutive months, down 8.83% at USD 38.61 billion in December 2019 -- helping narrow the trade deficit to USD 11.25 billion, showed the government data released on Wednesday.

Gold imports shrunk by about 4% to USD 2.46 billion during the month under review. The trade deficit was USD 14.49 billion in December 2018.

Of the 30 key sectors, as many as 18 segments showed negative growth in exports during the month.

Shipments of plastic, gems and jewellery, leather products, chemicals, carpet, petroleum and engineering goods contracted by 18.14%, 7.55%, 5.26%, 4.5%, 4%, 3.6%, 0.57%, respectively in December 2019.

The country's outbound shipments have remained subdued so far this year. It may have a bearing on the overall economic growth, which fell to over six-year low of 5% in the first quarter of the current fiscal.

Industrial output declined due to poor performance by manufacturing, power generation and mining sectors.

The outbound shipments contracted by 0.34% in November last year and 1.11% in October. In December last year, oil imports declined by 0.83% to USD 10.69, and non-oil imports fell by 11.56% to USD 27.92 billion.

Cumulatively, during April-December 2019, exports were down 1.96% to $239.29 billion while imports contracted by 8.9% to USD 357.39 billion. Trade deficit during the period narrowed to $118.10 billion as against $148.23 billion in April-December 2018-19.

Meanwhile, an RBI release showed that services export for November 2019 stood at about $18 billion while imports were at $11.5 billion.

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