Signalling a recovery, merchandise exports in January 5.4% from a year before, the highest since September 2020 and compared with a 0.1% rise in December, showed the preliminary estimate of the commerce ministry released on Tuesday.
Imports, too, recorded a second successive month of growth, though the pace of expansion slowed from the January level, reflecting the fragile state of domestic demand. Trade deficit narrowed to $14.75 billion in January from $15.44 billion in the previous month.
Exports rose to $27.24 billion in January against $25.85 billion a year before. Imports increased to $42 billion last month from $41.15 billion a year earlier.
What comes as a relief is that core exports (excluding petroleum and gem and jewellery) grew an impressive 13.2% in January. Similarly, such imports rose 5.9%.
However, hit by the pandemic and a subsequent lockdown that hit supply side hard, exports have witnessed a roller-coaster ride this fiscal. Having risen by 6% in September 2020, the first expansion since February 2020, outbound shipments faltered by 5.1% in October and 8.7% in November before it witnessed a marginal rise in December.
Nevertheless, it’s an encouraging sign and can potentially sustain once business operations stabilise in the wake of the Unlock.
Engineering goods exports rose as much as 18.7% in January, while drugs and pharma saw a 16.4% increase, the commerce ministry said.