Exports fall for the first time since recession

In keeping with an overall slowing trend, India’s goods exports fell in March — for the first time since they started recovering from the recession in 2009.

Exports fell 6% to $28.7 billion.

However, the government can heave a sigh of relief as the overall target for exports for the full year, $300 billion, has been achieved. Besides, the fall in exports can be attributed to the extremely strong numbers posted in March last year.

Total exports for 2011-12 was $304 billion.

However, instead of the targeted $420-$$440 billion of imports, India ended up importing $489 billion worth of goods in the year.

While full year exports were up only about 21%, full year imports were up 32%.

The result: trade deficit for 2011-12 widened from about $119 billion to $184 billion this year.

The biggest culprit in the rising imports was the rising price of oil.

While the quantity of oil imported during the year remained more or less the same, the oil import bill rose 47% to $156 billion in 2011-12. In March alone, India imported crude oil worth $15.8 billion. The oil numbers, however, are ‘gross’ — they have not been adjusted to remove the value of oil that is imported only for refining and re-export.

The total ‘net’ imports is only about 60% of the gross figure, and are likely to have climbed about 40% this year.