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Exports contract 14% in March

New Delhi, April 4: India’s exports have contracted by 14 to 20 per cent in March from a year ago as traders fought for orders from the West, which is hit by recession and protectionist measures.

According to the commerce ministry’s quick estimates, this is the sixth consecutive dip in merchandise exports.

“In March, exports will be about $12-14 billion, contracting 14 to 20 per cent,” commerce secretary G.K. Pillai told reporters today.

For the year ended March 2009, total exports would be $168-170 billion, he said.

Up to February, exports aggregated $156.59 billion with merchandise trade during the month dipping by nearly 22 per cent, a 13-year low.

The government expects exports to be flat in 2009-10, registering about $170 billion. This, analysts said, was a positive sentiment as projection by several agencies pointed to a lower economic growth in 2009-10.

Exporters are optimistic that G20 nations’ resolve to refrain from protectionist measures would boost global trade.

“If further protectionist measures are not taken by our trading partners, Indian exports will be back on track by the end of the first quarter of the current year,” A. Sakthivel, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO), said.

A Ficci survey among exporters reveal that a majority of them see flat growth in 2009-10 with some sectors showing modest recovery.

“Engineering goods, gems & jewellery, chemicals, marine products, tyres and to some extent leather are among sectors that anticipate negative or zero growth,” the survey said.

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