Exports jump 27.6% in March; trade deficit swells to United States $10.4 billion

Merchandise exports jumped as high as 27.6% in March from a year before - growing for a seventh straight month even in the aftermath of demonetisation - thanks to a rebound in the outbound shipments of engineering goods, petroleum products and garments, apart from a favourable base.

However, the country's imports during the month under review increased by 45.25 percent to Dollars 39.66 billion.

While the pick-up in exports bolstered the country's $2-trillion economy, still smarting from the Narendra Modi government's decision in November last year to pull out high-value currency notes from circulation, the spike in gold imports pushed up trade deficit to $10.43 billion in March 2017 from $4.4 billion in the same month last year.

The import of the precious metals rose to $4.17 billion in March 2017 compared to $973.45 million a year ago.

For the full fiscal 2016-17, exports saw a growth of 4.71%at $ 274.64 billion against $ 262.3 billion in 2015-16.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed. Imports also grew, especially oil and gold; so current account deficit worries continue. Similarly, overall (goods and services) imports fell from $529.6 billion in FY15 to $465.6 billion in FY16.

Petroleum imports nearly doubled to $9.7 billion in March 2017 from a year ago, while gold imports rose four-fold to $4.2 billion.

India's exports recorded a healthy 27.59 per cent growth for the month of March 2017, according to the official data. "The better export readings are in line with Morgan Stanley Global Trade Leading Indicator which confirmed improving external demand".

"In continuation with the double digit growth exhibited by exports during February, exports during March have shown a significant growth", the commerce ministry said in a statement.

The previous high in export growth was recorded at 36.3 per cent in September 2011.

Vanessa Coleman