Exports in 2018-19 reached its highest for any fiscal year as India took advantage of the trade war between the US and China.
Exports grew more than 9 per cent over the last fiscal to $331.02 billion. The earlier record was $314.4 billion in 2013-14.
During the fiscal, imports rose 8.99 per cent to $507.44 billion and trade deficit widened to $176.42 billion compared with $162 billion in 2017-18. Data showed the final push to exports came in March, when shipments grew 11 per cent to $32.55 billion on account of a higher growth in sectors, including pharma, chemicals and engineering.
Imports rose 1.44 per cent to $43.44 billion during the month. However, trade deficit narrowed to $10.89 billion compared with $13.51 billion in the same month last year. Gold imports rose 31.22 per cent to $3.27 billion in March 2019. Oil imports rose 5.55 per cent to $11.75 billion.
“While economies across Asia, specially China and South East Asian nations, have been showing signs of sluggishness with contraction in manufacturing because of a slowdown in the global trade, almost all our value-added product segment of exports have shown impressive growth,” Ganesh Kumar Gupta, president of FIEO, said.
The major growth drivers for the fiscal were electronic goods, plastics & linoleum, petroleum, engineering goods, organic & inorganic chemicals, drugs & pharmaceuticals and cotton yarn, fabs, made-ups and handloom products.
With services sector exports also expected to cross $204 billion with a growth of 6.26 per cent during 2018-19, overall exports were well over half a trillion mark ($500 billion) during the fiscal. The overall estimated exports (merchandise and services) have reached a new peak of $535.4 billion this year, attaining a growth of 7.97 per cent, the data showed.
Trade with China
India’s trade deficit with China has come down about $10 billion this year, a decline of 15.2 per cent from $63 billion in 2017-18 to $53.4 billion in 2018-19.
Officials said this was the result of rising exports to China which grew to $16.91 billion this year from $13.33 billion last year, while imports declined to $70.3 billion this year from $76.4 billion last year.