Exports dip for 1st time in 3 yrs;trade deficit at record high

New Delhi: A continuing recovery in the last three months notwithstanding, India's full-year exports fell for the first time in three years with a dip of 1.8 per cent to USD 300.6 billion in 2012-13, taking the country's trade deficit to a record high level of USD 191 billion.

The dismal performance for the full financial year came despite exports rising by 6.97 per cent in the month of March, marking the third straight month of uptrend.

The full-year exports had fallen last time in financial year 2009-10 (about 3.5 per cent) but there has been recovery during the two subsequent years.

While a recovery in global markets was reflected in exports growth in March and two previous months, a downtrend during most part of the previous three quarters resulted in an overall dip in the full-year numbers.

Exports in March 2013 stood at USD 30.8 billion, as compared to USD 28.8 billion in the same month of 2012.

Imports dipped by 2.87 per cent to USD 41.16 billion in March, leaving a trade deficit of USD 10.31 billion from USD 13.5 billion in March last year. In January, it had widened to USD 20 billion, the second highest ever monthly figure.

For 2012-13, the trade deficit grew to a record high level of USD 190.91 billion against USD 183.3 billion in the previous fiscal. Imports rose from USD 489 billion to USD 491.5 billion in the year.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the sops announced today as part of the Foreign Trade Policy, including those for SEZs, should help expand exports this fiscal and help bridge the trade gap.

Commerce Secretary S R Rao said exports are gradually picking up and should increase by 10 per cent this fiscal.

On trade deficit, Rao said it has come down slightly.

"Given a very weak performance for major part of the year, I think in the last 3-4 months, we really covered a good deal…"