New Delhi, April 28: The country’s merchandise exports crossed the $ 50 billion-mark during 2002-03 but the 18 per cent surge failed to arrest the ever-widening trade deficit which went up by 10.56 per cent.
Commerce and industry minister Arun Jaitley told reporters that India had “achieved this growth in exports at a time when the world economy was struggling for revival and many developed countries had found it difficult to achieve any growth in their exports.”
He said that with exports touching the $ 51.7 billion-mark, India’s share in world merchandise goods had gone up to 0.8 per cent in 2002.
“If the present trend is maintained we might even reach a 1 per cent share in world exports before the target year of 2007,”' he added.
However, the trade deficit also jumped by $ 734 million in 2002-03 over the corresponding figure of the preceding year. This reflects a fundamental weakness at the macro-economic level. The minister attributed the increase in the deficit to the soaring crude oil prices and rising edible oil imports.
Jaitley was optimistic about the future outlook of exports. He said in terms of commodity groups, engineering goods exports had grown by 25 per cent, gems and jewellery by 22.4 per cent and chemicals and related products by 17 per cent.
Destination-wise, he said exports to the US had grown by 29 per cent and to the European Union by 15 per cent. There was also a 24 per cent increase in the exports to Japan. Allaying fears over the Chinese dragon swamping the Indian markets, the minister said exports to that country had gone up by 96 per cent.
“This shows that our goods are accepted in the developed countries and our industry has risen to meet the challenge of global competition,” he added.
He said the government would fix the export target for the current year after consultation with the export promotion councils and commodity boards on May 6. Commerce secretary Dipak Chatterjee will be meeting the heads of export promotion councils and commodity boards.