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India’s exports up a tad to $312bn; dip in gold imports helps narrow trade gap

New Delhi, Apr 11 (PTI & Online Bureau): India's exports grew by a little less than four per cent in the year to March 31, 2014, while imports dipped by over eight per cent during the period, narrowing the trade deficit.

A sharp decrease in gold and silver imports helped narrow the trade gap to $138.59 billion from $190.33 billion, although crude oil imports continued to surge ahead.

Overall, exports grew to $312.35 billion, while imports declined to $450.94 billion.

Gold and silver imports contracted by 40 per cent to $33.46 billion in 2013-14, or just seven per cent of the total import bill, against 11 per cent in the previous year, after the government put in place steps to check the runaway imports.

In 2012-13, India had imported gold and silver worth $55.79 billion against total imports of $490.74 billion.

Crude oil imports continued to rise, and accounted for nearly $168 billion in 2013-14, against the $164 billion reported in the previous year.

At this level, crude oil accounted for 37 per cent or over a third of the total import bill.

However, in March, India’s exports contracted by 3.15 per cent to $29.57 billion and imports fell by 2.11 per cent to $40 billion as compared to the same period last year.

In FY 2012-13, India’s merchandise exports had added up to $300.4 billion.

India's current account deficit (CAD), which is the excess of foreign exchange outflows over inflows, had touched a historic high of 4.8 per cent of GDP in 2012-13, mainly due to rising imports of petroleum products and gold.

A high CAD puts pressure on the rupee, which in turn makes imports expensive and fuels inflation.

The government had increased customs duty on gold to 10 per cent and banned import of gold coins and medallions, while the RBI linked imports of the metal to exports.

India is the largest importer of gold, which is mainly used to meet the demand of the jewellery industry. Imports stood at about 830 tonnes in 2012-13.