India’s merchandise exports dipped 0.25% in February 2021 to $27.67 billion dollars, while merchandise imports rose almost 7% to $40.55 billion in the month.
The country’s trade deficit has risen 25.8% to $12.88 billion compared with February 2020, as per preliminary official data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry on Tuesday. Within the trade basket, exports of items excluding petroleum, and gems and jewellery, rose 5.65%, while imports of such items rose 7.4%.
Exporters blamed the marginal dip in exports in February — following two successive months of growth — to container shortages across the country and supply disruptions in the last week of the month due to increasing COVID-19 cases in certain States.
The biggest surge in exports was recorded in Other cereals (542%), followed by Oil meals (244.1%), Iron ore (167.8%), Jute products including floor covering (45.4%), and Rice (30.1%).
However, petroleum product exports fell 27.1%, followed by declines in several employment-intensive sectors such as leather (-21.6%), gems and jewellery (-11.2%) and readymade textile garments whose shipments contracted 8.5%.
“Rising exports from China have led to a shortage of containers in the region as most of the empty containers are available only for exports from China as the shipping lines and container companies are being paid hefty premiums for bringing empty containers back to China,” said Sharad Kumar Saraf, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO).
Mr. Saraf urged the government to address some of the long-pending demands of exporters urgently, including the notification of the rates under the RoDTEP (Remission of Duties and Taxes on Export Products) to remove uncertainty and allow new contracts to be taken up.