New Delhi, Jan 16: India's exports growth remained subdued at 6.7 per cent year-on-year in December on account of poor demand in Europe and the US, but the government is hopeful of achieving its USD 300 billion target for the current fiscal.
Though growth during the month under review was not robust, it was higher than in November, when overseas shipments grew by just 3.8 per cent.
In sharp contrast, imports grew at a faster pace of 19.8 per cent year-on-year to USD 37.8 billion in December, translating into a trade deficit of USD 12.8 billion, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters here.
During the April-December period this fiscal, exports aggregated to USD 217.6 billion, a year-on-year growth of 25.8 per cent, thanks to the surge witnessed in the early months of the fiscal.
From a peak of 82 per cent in July, export growth slipped to 44.25 per cent in August, 36.36 per cent in September and 10.8 per cent in October.
“If you get USD 80 billion exports in the remaining quarter (January-March, 2012), you are looking at close to USD 300 billion. And imports may touch about USD 460 billion,” Khullar said.
Experts opined that the country's exports growth for the entire fiscal will stand at about 20 per cent.
During the first three quarters of the current fiscal, imports were up by 30.4 per cent at USD 350.9 billion. The trade deficit stood at USD 133.3 billion during the period.
“At current reckoning, provided that exports pick up in the next three months, you are looking trade deficit in the neighbourhood of USD 155-160 billion,” he said.
Khullar said exports by all major sectors are doing well. During April-December, 2011, engineering and petroleum exports were up by 21.6 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively, at USD 45.3 billion and USD 43.9 billion.
Other sectors that registered healthy growth include gems and jewellery (38.5 per cent), ready-made garments (23.7 per cent), electronics (21.1 per cent), drugs (21.5 per cent), marine products (32.2 per cent) and plastics (43 per cent).
“Even today, exports have grown, taking into account all the corrections that have been made, all the deceleration that has taken place. At this rate, you are looking at a growth rate of 20 per cent during the fiscal. It could be more,” he said.
However, iron ore exports declined by 18 per cent to USD 3.2 billion.
During the first three quarters of 2011-12, petroleum imports were up by 40.4 per cent at USD 105.6 billion.
Other sectors which registered growth include gems and silver (53.8 per cent), machinery (27.7 per cent), electronics (21.1 per cent), chemicals (23 per cent), coal (62 per cent), fertilisers (35 per cent), vegetable oil (55 per cent), iron and steel ( 12.1 per cent).
The Secretary further said during the first quarter this fiscal, oil exports were up by 75 per cent vis-a-vis the same period last year. However, in Q2, they went up by 70 per cent and in Q3, they increased by just 22 per cent.
“In Q1, oil exports were high because of prices and then the price effect was washed away (in Q2 and Q3),” he said.
Giving a forecast on India's exports during 2012, he said: “It is going to be very difficult year, it's too uncertain at this point of time. There are uncertainties prevailing in euro land and in the US.”