16 September 2015 08:12:25 IST

Exports slump 20.6% in August on shrinking global demand

Exporters call for immediate intervention by PM and Commerce Minister

Export growth plunged 20.66 per cent in August to $21.26 billion — the ninth straight month of fall — as most major export items, including petroleum products, engineering goods, electronics, leather products and readymade garments, took a beating.

“The fall in exports is becoming sharper month-on-month, signalling worsening of global market conditions marked by the turbulence in China,” pointed out Anupam Shah from the Engineering Export Promotion Council.

Imports during the month fell 9.95 per cent to $33.74 billion, mainly due to a sharp decrease in the oil bill owing to low global prices. Items such as project goods, chemicals, plastics, coal and coke, pearls and precious stones also declined.

Gold imports increased 140 per cent to $4.95 billion even as the government put in place restrictions to check low-duty imports under the free trade agreement with the 10-member Asean bloc.

Trade deficit up

The trade deficit stood at $12.47 billion compared with $10.66 billion in August 2014, estimates released by the Commerce Ministry show.

Exporters called for immediate intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “The Prime Minister and the Commerce Minister should hold consultations with export bodies to draw a roadmap for exports in such challenging times when reaching last year’s exports figure looks difficult,” FIEO chief SC Ralhan said in a statement.

The interest subvention or subsidy scheme, which was provided for in this year’s Budget but is yet to be rolled out, should be announced immediately, FIEO said.

Exports during April-August 2015-16 stood at $111.09 billion, 16.7 per cent lower than the comparable period last year. Imports during the period fell 11.61 per cent to $168.61 billion.

Trade deficit in the April-August 2015-16 was $ 57.51 billion, lower than a deficit of $58.21 billion in the same period last fiscal.