Rising coronavirus cases and subsequent lockdowns in key export markets dragged India's merchandise exports lower by 8.74 per cent in November, official data showed on Tuesday.
The country's merchandise exports during the month under review receded to $23.52 billion from $25.77 billion in November 2019.
"Cumulative value of exports for the period April-November 2020-21 was $173.66 billion as against $211.17 billion during the period April-November 2019-20, registering a negative growth of (-) 17.76 per cent in dollar terms," a Ministry of Commerce and Industry statement said on the basis of preliminary data.
"Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in November 2020 were $19.29 billion, as compared to $19.37 billion in November 2019, registering a negative growth of (-) 0.40 per cent," the statement said.
Similarly, India's merchandise imports declined by 13.32 per cent in November to $33.39 billion from $38.52 billion during the corresponding month of the previous year.
"Imports in November 2020 were $33.39 billion which is a decline of (-) 13.32 per cent in dollar terms and (-) 9.96 per cent in rupee terms over imports of $38.52 billion in November 2019. Cumulative value of imports for the period April-November 2020-21 was $215.69 billion as against $324.59 billion during the period April-November 2019-20, registering a negative growth of (-) 33.55 per cent in dollar terms and (-) 29.43 per cent in rupee terms," the statement said.
Segment wise, oil imports in November 2020 were down 43.36 per cent to $6.27 billion compared to $11.07 billion.
"Non-oil imports in November 2020 were estimated at $27.12 billion which was 1.20 per cent lower in dollar terms, compared to $27.45 billion in November 2019. Non-oil and non-gold imports were $24.10 billion in November 2020, recording a negative growth of (-) 1.67 per cent, as compared to non-oil and non-gold imports of $24.51 billion in November 2019," the statement said.
In addition, the data showed that India was a net importer in November 2020, with a trade deficit of $9.87 billion, as compared to a trade deficit of $12.75 billion in November 2019.
"With renewed restrictions in various trading partners causing exports to falter, the trade deficit rose to a 10-month high of $9.9 billion in November 2020," Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA, said.
"The slide in non-oil export growth was led by renewed restrictions in trading partners that outweighed the optimism related to an early availability of Covid-19 vaccines. This trend may continue in the winter months, before an uptrend takes root in Q4 FY202," Nayar said.
The Founder-Chairman of Trade Promotion Council of India, Mohit Singla, said: "Exports of processed food have seen a consistent growth from $60 million in April, when the lockdown started, to $170 million in November, along with the stellar performance in rice and other cereals compared to last year. The overall de-growth in exports can be largely linked to decline in exports of petroleum products, which is also seen in Rs 33,000 cr decline in imports."
According to Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer, Acuite Ratings & Research: "We note that there has been a significant pickup in the imports of electronic goods and components in November, mostly reflecting the increased demand for digital devices and mobile phones. Further, the imports of capital goods, chemicals, coal and edible oil have also witnessed a healthy recovery as compared to the previous months.
"The gradual normalisation of the merchandise trade deficit figures notwithstanding, a healthy position in net exports of services and the continuing capital flows are likely to ensure a record current account surplus of $25-40 billion in FY21."