Exports surge 45.8% in Aug to $33 bn; trade deficit widens to $13.8 bn

Merchandise imports continued to widen at $47.09 billion in August

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India exported goods worth $33.38 billion in August, up 45.76 per cent year-on-year (YoY), amid robust external demand, data released by the commerce and industry ministry showed.

The 45 per cent surge can be partly attributed to the impact of low base due to disruption caused by Covid-19. Items such as engineering products, gems and jewellery and petroleum products continued to drive growth. 

Exports have been consistently rising and stayed above the $30-billion mark since March. On a sequential basis, exports fell 6 per cent from the record level of $35.43 billion in July. As compared to pre-Covid levels, the growth was 27 per cent compared to August 2019. On a cumulative basis, India’s merchandise exports in April-August was $256.17 billion, up 44.04 per cent YoY and up 15.79 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. This translates into India achieving close to two-thirds of its exports target of $400 billion for the current fiscal year.

Merchandise imports continued to widen at $47.09 billion in August, up 51.72 per cent YoY, resulting in a trade deficit of $13.81 billion, a four-month high.

“As state-wise restrictions have lifted, and economic activity and mobility have recovered, the merchandise trade deficit has widened steadily to $13.9 billion in August 2021 from the eight-month low of $6.3 billion in May 2021. The predominant drivers behind widening of the trade deficit have been gold and oil imports,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ICRA.

“With gold imp­orts likely to ease in the ongoing month on account of the inauspicious period, the merchandise tr­ade deficit may mod­erate under $10 billion in September 2021,” Nayar added. 

Non-oil imports in August stood at $35.43 billion, up 44.13 per cent YoY, while oil imports were $11.64 billion, an increase of 80.64 per cent. “In this connection, it is mentioned that the global Brent price ($/bbl) has increased by 58.20 per cent in August 2021 vis-a-vis August 2020, according to data available from World Bank,” the department of commerce said in a statement. 

Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports were $28.67 billion in August, up 37.33 per cent YoY. “The buoyancy continues in August with resilient demand in India’s major export markets. Non-petroleum and non-jewellery exports, which signify manufacturing activity in India, have grown about 25 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year,” said Prahalathan Iyer, chief general manager, research & analysis, Exim Bank.