Imports, in the same period, dipped 2.2 per cent. Import demand, nonetheless, was buoyed by pharmaceuticals, metal, appliances and kitchenware, paper, chemicals and fruit & nuts, mainly from Northern Europe, South Asia, China and Russia.
As for exports, India’s eastern and western regions registered double digit growth with commodities like plastic, rubber, textiles and vegetables as the key drivers, data sourced from Maersk India Trade Report 2019 showed.
“Enabling and facilitating trade is an integral part of our business, and it contributes to prosperity and development, globally and locally. Considering the tensions in the global trade environment, we are off to a positive start to 2019 on exports, and the market is expected to strengthen after the elections. Indian exporters today are expanding their geographical range and product diversification, with a visible shift towards higher value-added manufacturing and technology-driven items,” said Steve Felder, Managing Director, Maersk South Asia.
“Exports have remained strong even as the rupee appreciated against the dollar, which shows a strong demand for Indian exports. The moderation of global containerised trade growth reflects a broad-based slowdown in main economies due to declining growth in private consumption, trade tensions, political risks and financial volatility”, he added.
Export trade with Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt was driven by commodities like plastic and rubber, tile, stone, glass, textiles and seeds, beans, cereals and flour leading the growth curve in dry cargo segment. While vegetables drove refrigerated cargo exports to Saudi Arabia, imports were primarily driven by Germany, South Korea, and Russia. In contrast to the previous quarter, metal and paper imports saw a decline.
Refrigerated cargo saw a stable 6 per cent growth in exports in Q1 2019, with commodities like vegetables, fruit and nuts, fish, meat, pharmaceuticals and chemicals driving the reefer import-export trade. Saudi Arabia, USA, Germany, Belgium and Spain were among the highest export countries for India’s refrigerated cargo with chemicals, pharmaceuticals, meat and vegetables driving this demand.
India's exports of shrimps, the principal exportable seafood item, to United States have clocked a growth of 14 per cent during January-April of calendar 2019. Shrimp exports to the US touched 74,743 tonnes between January and April this year compared to 65,325 tonnes exported during the same period of 2018, according to NOAA Fisheries, an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Department of Commerce.
US imported the largest volume of shrimps from India during the first four months of 2019. India's share was more than 38 per cent of the 194,603 tonnes US imported this year. India's dominance in exports of the perishable item to US continued despite the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) regulations on shrimp introduced by the latter this year to keep a tab on quality imports. USA is the largest market for Indian exporters.
Commenting on the way forward, Felder said, “As the Indian logistics sector gears itself for a deeper implementation of new emerging technologies like block chain and artificial intelligence, the industry needs to focus on skill development to enhance the export growth. However, India needs to drive and indeed fast-track investment-led infrastructural upgrade of roads, inter-modal transportation and cold chain infrastructure, which would benefit the farmers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s)”.