NEW DELHI : India’s merchandise trade deficit narrowed to $9.22 bln in November from $17.20 bln a year ago as imports continued to decline, the commerce and industry ministry said. India’s trade deficit was $10.56 bln in October.
The trade deficit in November narrowed as imports declined 16.4% on year to $33.83 bln, while exports rose 5.9% to $24.61 bln, the ministry said. In absolute terms, the imports in November were the lowest for any month since March 2011, Director General of Foreign Trade Anup Pujari said.
Oil imports in November declined 1.1% on year to $12.96 bln, while bullion imports declined as much as 80.5% to $1.05 bln. Gold imports have come down in past few months after the government raised import duty on the precious metal, while the Reserve Bank of India tightened norms of its import.
Meanwhile, the pace of export growth slowed in November. In October, India’s exports had risen 13.5% on year. Rao attributed the slower export growth to marginal weakening in shipments of pharmaceutical, petroleum products, and gems and jewellery. Importers in many countries are asking Indian drugmakers to export drugs on prices at par with domestic prices, which are being sold at lower rates under the drug control order in the country, Rao said.
The trade secretary also said global crude oil prices have come off $5-$7 a barrel after the “good news on Iran front”. Last month, Iran agreed to curtail nuclear activities in return for easing of some sanctions after a decade-long deadlock. During Apr-Nov, the first eight months of the current fiscal, exports were up 6.3% at $203.99 bln, while imports were down 5.4% to $303.89 bln. Gold and silver imports declined 23.8% on year to $25.5 bln during Apr-Nov, while oil imports were up 2.8% on year at $111.06 bln. Trade deficit in Apr-Nov was $99.90 bln against $129.23 bln a year ago.
Following the trade data, the rupee recouped some losses. The currency, which had fallen to a record low of 68.8 in August, has since recovered and is currently at 61.32 to a dollar. -Cogencis