By Isha Arora
India’s trade deficit widened marginally in April from the year-ago period as export growth gathered pace.
The gap between exports and imports was 3.5 percent higher from the same month last year to $13.72 billion, according to data released by the commerce ministry today. The trade deficit stood at $13.7 billion in March. The deficit for financial year 2018 came in at $157 billion, the widest in five years, mainly driven by a rising oil import bill —a growing concern for the central bank.
The value of India’s exports increased 5.17 percent over last year to $25.9 billion in April. Outbound shipments of petroleum products, organic and inorganic chemicals’ declined. Exports of drugs and pharmaceuticals rose, while shipments of gems and jewellery, which is typically the second major contributor to the bill, dropped.
1. Gems and jewellery exports fell 16.9 percent to $3.3 billion.
2. Export of engineering goods increased 17.6 percent over last year to $7.2 billion.
3. Export of organic and inorganic chemicals rose 38.5 percent to $1.8 billion.
4. Outbound shipments of petroleum products fell 4.5 percent to $2.8 billion.
5. Drugs and pharmaceuticals exports climbed 13.5 percent to $1.4 billion.
Imports rose 4.6 percent year-on-year to $39.6 billion, with petroleum and crude oil shipments continuing to inflate the bill. Inbound shipments of machinery, organic and inorganic chemicals rose, while pearls and precious stones imports dropped significantly.
The rally in crude oil prices, triggered by the conflict in the Middle East and re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran has had a bearing on India’s import bill, as it imports over 80 percent of its oil needs. Brent crude price rallied nearly 35.2 percent year-on-year to $78.9 per barrel in April.
1. Gold imports declined 33.05 percent year-on-year to $2.6 billion.
2. Petroleum and crude imports increased 41.5 percent to $10.4 billion from last year.
3. Import of pearls, precious and semi-precious stones dropped 36.4 percent to $2.3 billion.
4. Organic and inorganic chemical imports went up 18.4 percent $2 billion.
5. Import of coal, coke and briquettes jumped 20.4 percent to $2.2 billion.
6. Inbound shipments of machinery, both electrical and non-electrical, rose 9.1 percent to $2.9 billion.
Isha Arora is a journalist interested in the economy, politics, arts and culture, travel and photography.