India’s goods exports in February 2021 declined marginally by 0.25 per cent to $ 27.67 billion (year-on-year) after increasing for two consecutive months as major commodities including petroleum, engineering goods, gems & jewellery, ready-made garments and leather products suffered a set-back.
Trade deficit during the month widened by 25.84 per cent to $12.88 billion with imports posting a rise of 6.98 per cent in February 2021 to $40.55 billion, as per preliminary data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry on Tuesday.
Value of non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in February 2021, however, increased by 5.65 per cent to $ 22.48 billion.
On a positive note, exporters’ body Fieo pointed out that the fall in exports during the month was marginal and signs of revival continued not only in the order booking positions but also in the demand from across the globe. “This could pave the way for much better days and months ahead for the sector,” Fieo President S K Saraf said.
One area of concern that needed to be sorted out was the rising exports from China which had led to a shortage of containers in the region as most of the empty containers are available only for exports from China, Saraf pointed out. This is because shipping lines and container companies are being paid hefty premiums for bringing empty containers back to China.
Non-oil, non-GJ (gold, silver & precious metals) imports posted a higher growth of 7.4 per cent in February 2021 to $ 23.85 billion.
“While the overall non oil imports were in line with our expectations, this masks a spike in gold imports, counter-balanced by a month-on-month dip in non oil non gold imports,” said Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA Limited.
Following the Budget, in February 2021, gold imports surged to the highest level since November 2014, she said, adding that with gold imports remaining elevated for the last three months, the total value of shipments in the current fiscal may modestly exceed the level of $28.2 billion seen in the previous fiscal.
Exports during April-February 2020-21 posted a fall of 12.32 per cent to $ 255.92 billion while imports during the period were 23.09 per cent lower at $ 340.88 billion, compared to the same period last fiscal.
Major commodities of export which have recorded growth during the month include drugs & pharmaceuticals (14.58 per cent), meat, dairy & poultry (26.43 per cent), other cereals (542 per cent), oil meals (244.12 per cent), iron ore (167.79 per cent), spices (18.46 per cent), tobacco (7.69 per cent), handicrafts and handmade carpets (13.14 per cent), chemicals (1.16 per cent) and ceramic products (10.8 per cent).
Growth in imports in February 2021 was led by gold (123.95 per cent), electronic goods (37.77 per cent), chemicals (37.61per cent), iron & steel (23.41 per cent), ores (29.52 per cent), pharmaceutical products (15.38 per cent) and wood products (18.56 per cent).