Exports enters negative zone in Oct; trade deficit widens

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In contrast, imports grew by 7.6% to $37.1 billion in October, pushing up trade deficit to $14 billion from $11.1 billion in October 2016. Goods imports last month were $37.12 billion, a gain of 7.6 percent from a year ago, data from the commerce and industry ministry showed.

T.S. Bhasin, chairman of the apex engineering exporters body, EEPC India, said in a statement that "the setback can be traced to disruptions due to roll-out of the GST that resulted in squeezing of working capital for exporters".

Gold imports dipped 16 per cent to $2.9 billion last month. "Otherwise, there is no other plausible reason for the exports to fall in the midst of recovery in the global markets which was so evident in the previous months".

In October, petroleum, engineering and chemicals exports grew by 14.74 per cent, 11.77 per cent and 22.29 per cent, respectively. He added that EEPC hoped that the new refund regime for the exporters worked well.

"The decline in exports was expected because exporters were struggling with a liquidity crunch after paying the Goods and Services Tax for four months in a row without getting any refund", Federation of Indian Export Organisations President Ganesh Kumar Gupta told Mint.

Gupta said that it was worrisome that labour-intensive sectors such as gems and jewellery, garments, handicrafts and leather products were the worst affected and the government needs to take remedial measures to prevent a further decline.

"Implementation of the measures approved by GST Council is not taking place as a result challenges faced by the exporters remain the same", added FIEO chief.

Export declined by 1.12 per cent to $23 billion in October, retreating from a six-month high growth in September as shipments of textiles, pharmaceuticals, leather and gems and jewellery fell.

Oil and non-oil imports grew by 27.89 per cent and 2.19 per cent to Dollars 9.28 billion and USD 27.83 billion, respectively in October.

Growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) slowed to 3.8 per cent in September, from 4.5 per cent in August. Exports during April-October 2017-18 rose by 9.6% to $170.3 billion, while imports grew 22.2% to $256.4 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $86.1 billion. It had stood at almost $9 billion in September and $11.1 billion in the year-ago period.

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