The country's exports growth remained almost flat in December 2018, recording a marginal expansion of 0.34 per cent to $27.93 billion, mainly on account of global trade tensions.
Subdued exports and declining imports have narrowed the trade deficit to a ten-month low of $13.08 billion in December 2018 as against $14.2 billion in the same month of the previous year.
According to trade data released by the commerce ministry, in last December, exports grew by 0.34 per cent (lowest in three months), while imports entered the negative zone, registering a decline of 2.44 per cent to $41 billion.
Last time, imports had plunged into negative territory in September 2016. It was dipped by 2.54 per cent then.
The import of gold, too, contracted by 24.33 per cent to $2.56 billion in December 2018.
During the month under review, several key export sectors recorded negative growth. It includes engineering goods, gems and jewellery, leather, pharmaceuticals, marine products, iron ore, tea and coffee.
Commenting on the figures, exporters body FIEO said that the marginal growth in exports was due to uncertain global cues and challenges on the domestic front.
"China's exports contracted in December 2018, highlighting fragile global conditions. The weak global economic outlook are showing no signs of respite," Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Ganesh Kumar Gupta said.
Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) Chairman Ravi Sehgal too said the unfolding global situation comprises not only problems on account of trade tensions between China and the US but other issues like uncertainty over Brexit fall-out in the European markets.
"The situation certainly calls for a major rethink and redrawing of our export strategy," he said.
However, cumulatively during April-December this fiscal, exports grew by 10.18 per cent to $245.44 billion. Imports rose by 12.61 per cent to $386.65 billion.
The trade deficit widened to $141.2 billion during the nine months of the current fiscal from $120.57 billion in April-December 2017-18.
Oil imports in December 2018 rose by 3.16 per cent to $10.67 billion. During April-December this fiscal, imports grew by 42.85 per cent to $108.10 billion.
Non-oil imports during the nine-month period of the fiscal increased by 4.06 per cent to $278.54 billion.