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Imports decline for six mths in row, exports dip

Date: 14-12-2019
Subject: Imports decline for six mths in row, exports dip
NEW DELHI: India’s trade deficit widened to the highest in three months as imports registered the sixth straight monthly decline, falling nearly 13% to $38 billion, while exports dipped 0.3% to $26 billion, which was the fourth consecutive month of decline.

Although the pace of decline has moderated, trade remains a key worry for policymakers, with exports seen to be crucial for the revival of industry. On the other hand, imports are seen to be symptomatic of overall economic activity, which has resulted in a decline in demand for raw material, inputs and capital goods.

Only eight of the 30 major project segments saw higher imports, while 13 out of the 30 major product groups were in positive territory during November 2019.

Crude oil imports were a key factor in shrinking of imports, as it fell over 18% to $11 billion. While demand for oil products has come down due to economic downturn, the commerce department pointed to a 3.7% fall in Brent prices to suggest this may have been behind the decline. Non-oil imports fell over 10% to $27 billion, led by a 12% decline in gold shipments. But the numbers suggested that slowdown had an all-pervasive impact, with transport equipment imports falling almost 50%, while iron and steel, metals, chemicals saw a sharp decline too.

“Both domestic and global factors have led to this decline in exports. Prolonging trade tensions and protectionism, along with sluggishness in the economies across the globe has further added to woes of India’s exports sector,” said FIEO president Sharad Kumar Saraf. EEPC India chairman Ravi Sehgal said the lobby group was working with the government to improve competitiveness.

ICRA principal economist Aditi Nayar said, “The merchandise trade deficit in November 2019 trailed our expectations, with imports recording a substantial contraction on account of oil, transport equipment as well as a variety of other items, underscoring both subdued commodity prices as well as weak demand conditions in the economy.”

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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