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India’s Monthly Merchandise Exports Surge to $41.40 Billion in February

India reported a robust 12% annualized growth in merchandise exports at $41.4 billion in the month of February despite global headwinds, narrowing contraction in the first 11 months of 2023-24 by 3.6% to $395 billion, a senior official said.

Services exports in February were estimated at $32.15 billion, a 17.3% year-on-year growth over the February 2023 figure of $27.4 billion. Cumulatively, services exports were up by 7% at $314.82 billion in April 2023-February 2024 as against $294.89 billion in the corresponding period of FY23, according to data released by the commerce ministry on Friday. Services data for February are an extrapolation of the previous month’s numbers because the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) releases figures for the services sector with a lag.

Releasing the monthly trade data on Friday, commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal said the February figures indicate that we have “overshot” last year’s numbers, “which gives me hope that by the end of March when we close to this financial year, our overall exports (goods and services combined) will exceed” the numbers of FY23.

In 2022-23, India’s merchandise exports crossed $451 billion while overall exports (goods and services together) achieved a record $770 billion, on a high base as India’s total exports – both goods and services — in 2021-22 was also a record at $676 billion. In 11 months of 2023-24, India’s overall exports (goods and services combined) are estimated at $709.81 billion, a growth of 0.83% over $ 704 billion in April-February 2022-23.

According to Barthwal, Indian exporters’ achievements are remarkable as they withstood global headwinds, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, recessions in many markets, and logistics disruptions due to disturbances in the Red Sea to achieve significant growth in February.

“If you look at the 11 months of the financial year, this is the highest export growth which we have achieved, both merchandise as well as overall. This is very heartening,” he said adding that India’s overall exports are likely to be higher this financial year than the last year’s record exports.

The main drivers of exports in the month were engineering goods, electronic goods, chemicals, petroleum products, drugs and pharmaceuticals. Export of engineering goods in February saw a 15.9% year-on-year growth, while about 55% growth was witnessed in electronic goods. Data showed that in exports of electronic goods, particularly, smartphones, India and Korea have dominated the US market, with India having a larger share. There has been a decline in the share of China, Vietnam and Hong Kong, another official said who did not wish to be named.

India witnessed a trade deficit of $18.71 billion in February, which was $16.57 billion in the same period a year ago, mainly due to a surge in gold imports. The country imported gold worth $6.15 billion in February 2024, about a 134% jump from $2.63 billion in the same period a year ago. In the 11 month period of FY24 (April-February), over $44 billion worth of gold was imported, a 39% y-o-y jump. Overall, the country imported goods worth $60.11 billion in February 2024, a 12.2% year-on-year jump as compared to $53.58 billion in February 2023.

India’s overall imports (goods and services combined) in April 2023-February 2024 are estimated at $782.05 billion, showing a contraction of 4.64% as compared to $820.14 billion in the corresponding period of the last financial year.

Commenting on the trade data for February, Federation of Indian Export Organization’s (FIEO) president Ashwani Kumar said the last time the figures showed such a higher growth was in March 2023, when it was at $41.96 billion. Imports rose by over 12% to $60.11 billion showing a four-month high growth. “Such an impressive increase in overall export growth despite the Red Sea crisis, tight monetary stance by the developed world and falling commodity prices posing challenge, not only portrays the dedication and commitment of the sector but also the resilience of the exporting community, who have continuously been braving such odds since Russia-Ukraine war,” he said.

Recent tensions in West Asia especially the threat for consignments routing through the Red Sea have further added to the woes of the exporting community, as the freight rates have gone up unimaginably high, with the burden of various surcharges, he said. “Much will depend on the new contracts to be signed with buyers during the new fiscal as the exporters have been absorbing the burden of increased freight cost as per the old agreement,” he added.

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(Source: HT)

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