Trade deficit narrows to $17.43 billion in February 2023; export import contract

Merchandise exports declined by 8.8 percent to $33.88 billion, while imports declined to $51.31 billion in the month under review.

India’s trade deficit narrowed to $17.43 billion in February 2023, narrower than $18.75 billion in the year-ago period, according to official data released on March 15.

The number is also slightly lower than the previous month, as the trade deficit in January 2023 stood at $17.76 billion.

Total imports in February stood at $51.31 billion, down about 8 per cent from $55.90 billion in the year-ago period. However, it was higher month-on-month as imports stood at $50.66 billion in January.

Merchandise exports fell 8.8 per cent to $33.88 billion in February, as against $37.15 billion in the year-ago period. It registered a marginal increase as compared to the previous month, when it stood at $32.91 billion.

In the services category, exports grew by nearly 37 percent to $36.85 billion, while imports grew by 12 percent to $14.55 billion.

The commerce ministry said service and merchandise exports combined grew by 7.8 per cent in February.

Between April 2022 and February 2023, the country’s total merchandise exports increased by 7.5 percent to $ 405.94 billion. Imports increased by 18.82 percent to $653.47 billion during the same period.

The commerce ministry said in a press briefing that the significant increase in exports so far this fiscal has come from the sale of petroleum products and electronic goods.

Mobile exports are set to grow by 50 per cent in FY2023, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said, reaching $8.3 billion by the end of January.

India has set a target of achieving exports of $750 billion in FY23, which is 11 per cent higher than the $676 billion exports recorded in the previous fiscal.

The commerce secretary said the country’s total merchandise exports, growing at about 7.5 per cent, comes in the backdrop of the World Trade Organization (WTO) slashing the global trade growth forecast for 2023 to 1 per cent. He said the growth in merchandise exports recorded by India at a time of slow growth globally is “not bad”.

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