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Exports fall 1.8 per cent in December, trend to continue

NEW DELHI: India’s exports contracted for the fifth month in a row, registering a fall by 1.8 per cent to $27.36 billion in December 2019. And with protectionism and global turmoil, the picture seems far from rosy in the coming months.

The data released by the Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday revealed that imports too declined by 8.83 per cent at $38.61 billion, thus narrowing the trade deficit to $11.25 billion during December, against trade deficit of $14.49 billion in December 2018.

Oil imports contracted by 0.83 per cent to $10.69 billion during the period, while gold imports dipped by about 4 per cent to $2.46 billion.

During April-December FY2019-20, exports slipped 1.96 per cent to $239.29 billion, imports declined by 8.9 per cent to $357.39 billion, leaving an overall trade deficit of $118.10 billion. Only 11 out of the 30 major product groups were in positive territory during December 2019.

“Domestic issues including uncertainty over MEIS (Merchandise Export from India Scheme) was a major cause of concern as exporters’ claim for over five months are still pending, which has completely wiped out their liquidity and has kept them in doldrums with regard to finalising new contracts. The problem of risky exporters has further compounded the liquidity problem as their GST and drawback claims have also been held up,” said Sharad Kumar Saraf, President, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO).

The FIEO president reiterated that the stalemate over MEIS for apparels and made-ups should be resolved immediately. Besides, Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) should be notified with immediate effect for all the products.

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