India's exports grew marginally to $27.15 billion in December while imports surged 7.56 per cent, increasing the trade deficit to $15.44 billion, official data showed on Friday.
Imports during the month were estimated at $42.59 billion, with inbound shipments of gold rising sharply by 81.82 per cent to $4.48 billion.
"The trade deficit for December 2020 was estimated at $15.44 billion as against the deficit of $12.49 billion in December 2019, which is an increase of 23.66 per cent," as per government data.
Exports growth was in the negative territory in October and November.
The data revealed that exports of petroleum products contracted 35.35 per cent to $2.34 billion in December, while that of readymade garments shrank 15.05 per cent to $1.19 billion.
However, exports of electronic goods rose by 16.51 per cent to $1.25 billion and of chemicals by 10.79 per cent to nearly $2 billion.
The outward shipments of rice, tea, spices and oil meals too were higher in December 2020 compared to the same month last year.
Cumulative value of exports for the period April-December 2020-21 was $200.80 billion as against $238.27 billion during the same period last year, down 15.73 per cent.
On the imports front, oil shipments in December 2020 were $9.58 billion, which was 10.61 per cent lower compared to $10.72 billion in the year ago month.
Oil imports in April-December 2020-21 were $53.69 billion, 44.49 per cent lower over the year ago period.
Non-oil imports in December 2020 were estimated at $33 billion, which was 14.30 per cent higher over December 2019.
Non-oil imports during April-December stood at $204.58 billion, down 23.51 per cent from $267.47 billion in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.
If merchandise and services are combined, India's overall exports in April-December 2020-21 stood at $348.49 billion, a decline of 12.65 per cent over the same period last year.
Overall imports in April-December were estimated to be $343.27 billion, exhibiting a negative growth of 25.86 per cent on an annual basis.
Commenting on the data, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) president Sharad Kumar Saraf said the monthly exports have moved towards positive territory as major products show signs of further revival as expected.
"Exporters continue to face headwinds of extreme nature, as the key economies of the world are in the midst of a demand recession.
“The domestic scenario of rising cost of raw material like steel aggravates the situation," engineering exporters' body EEPC India said.
Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters