New Delhi, Jan. 11: Exports continued its downhill journey for the eighth straight month in December by falling 1.9 per cent to $24.88 billion from $25.36 billion a year ago because of a persistent drop in demand from traditional markets such as the US and Europe.
Imports rose 6.3 per cent to $42.5 billion, widening the trade deficit to $17.7 billion from $14.7 billion in the same period a year ago.
Exports during the first nine months of this fiscal contracted 5.5 per cent to $214.1 billion, while imports fell 0.71 per cent to $361.3 billion. Trade deficit during the period stood at $146.2 billion against $137.3 billion in the year-ago period.
Commerce secretary S.R. Rao said the target to achieve an export growth of around 20 per cent at $360 billion this fiscal looked difficult.
During April-December, only drugs and pharmaceuticals showed positive growth by rising 10.7 per cent. Among imports, only petroleum registered a growth of 12.1 per cent.
Apart from textiles, most sectors showed signs of recovery in December, Rao said.
“We hope this trend continues. Performance of exports in the last quarter of the fiscal depends on complex factors like how the world trade will move,” he said.
The grant of the most favoured nation (MFN) status by Pakistan is likely to get delayed further.
Islamabad has missed the December 31 deadline, and indications are that it may not announce the granting of such a status to India when bilateral relations have hit a new low.
“They have agreed to grant MFN status... may be it could be a matter of a few weeks more… the important message is their commitment to allow free trade between the two countries,” a senior commerce ministry official said.
Pakistan’s commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and secretary Munir Qureshi are coming to India for the three-day annual partnership summit in Agra beginning January 27.
The MFN status will enable the two countries to trade on equal terms, offering low tariffs and high import quotas to each other.
The elimination of negative list will technically mean the automatic grant of MFN status. India gave Pakistan MFN status in 1996.