NEW DELHI: India’s exports contracted by 1.66 per cent to $25.97 billion in January for the sixth month in a row, according to the data released by the commerce ministry on Friday.
Imports declined by 0.75 per cent to $41.14 billion, and the trade deficit stood at $15.17 billion during the month under review. The trade deficit was $15.05 billion in January 2019.
Only 10 out of the 30 major product groups were in the positive territory during January 2020 including electronic goods, drugs and pharmaceuticals, organic and inorganic chemicals, iron ore, yarn and handloom products.
Meanwhile, all labour-intensive sectors were still in negative territory. During April-January 2019-20, exports slipped 1.93 per cent to $265.26 billion, imports declined by 8.12 per cent to $398.53 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $133.27 billion.
Exporters do not see any respite in coming months, especially in the backdrop of Coronavirus outbreak, which is also going to impact exports in a major way. “Besides protectionism and liquidity concerns coupled with the sudden spread of Coronavirus in the world’s second-largest economy China has further worsened the global sentiment and exporters are delaying their shipments,” Federation of Indian Export Organisations president Sharad Kumar Saraf said.
On the domestic front, he added that uncertainty over Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) is a major spoiler. “Domestic issues including uncertainty over MEIS Scheme has been a major cause of concern as exporters’ claim for about six months are still pending, which has completely wiped out their liquidity and has kept them in doldrums with regard to finalising new contracts…” Saraf added.