Exports rise 24% to $38 billionn, but trade deficit hits $20 billion

NEW DELHI: India’s exports shot up over 24% in April to $38.2 billion, driven by a surge in international oil prices. Higher oil prices also had an impact on imports, which went up nearly 27% at $58.3 billion, preliminary data released by the commerce department estimated.

This pushed up the trade deficit to $20 billion. Among the major commodity groups, petroleum product shipments more than doubled to $7.7 billion, as diesel prices have surged more than crude prices in the global markets after the Ukraine war started.

Electronic exports were the other category to see high growth, rising 64% in April to $1.6 billion. On the import front, if crude oil shipments jumped 81% to 195 billion, coal jumped by 137% to $4.7 billion in April. These two commodities have seen a significant price increase after Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Unless commodity prices recede appreciably, we expect the merchandise trade deficit to print above $20 billion in a majority of the months of FY2023. The increase in the merchandise trade deficit from $15.3 billion in April 2021 to $20.1 billion in April 2022 was entirely on account of oil.

Although the non-oil trade deficit remained stable, there was a shift in its composition, with a plunge in gold imports being offset by a rise in non-oil non-gold imports such as coal and chemicals, an unsavoury yet expected fallout of the higher commodity prices engendered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” ICRA chief economist Aditi Nayar said.