India added $20.14 billion to its trade deficit in May 2013, taking the country's negative trade balance for the first two months of the current fiscal (April-May 2013-14) to $37.93 billion.
At $37,930.96 million, India trade deficit for April-May 2013-14 is 22.47 per cent higher than the trade deficit of $30,972.28 million during April-May 2012-13, data released by the commerce ministry showed.
India imported goods and services valued at $44.65 billion (Rs245,619.14 crore) during May 2013, showing a rise of 6.99 per cent in dollar terms and an 8.04 per cent increase in rupee terms over imports valued at $41.73 billion (Rs227,336.72 crore) in May 2012.
The country's exports during May 2013 were valued at $24.51 billion (Rs134,807.62 crore), which was 1.11 per cent lower in dollar terms and 0.13 per cent lower in rupee terms compared with exports valued at $24.78 billion (Rs134,983.82 crore) during May 2012.
Cumulative value of imports for April-May 2013-14 stood at $86.60 billion (Rs473,734.59 crore) against $79.54 billion (Rs423,225.26 crore) in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal – a growth of 8.88 per cent in dollar terms and an increase of 11.93 per cent in rupee terms year-on-year.
At the same time the cumulative value of exports for the April-May 2013-14 period was $48.67 billion (Rs266,203.05 crore) against $48.57 billion (Rs258,39.33 crore), up 0.21 per cent in dollar terms and 3.08 per cent higher in rupee terms over the same period last year.
Commodity wise, oil imports, which continue to be the country's major import item, were valued at $15.022 billion during May 2013 – a 3.05 per cent increase from oil imports valued at $14.58 billion in the corresponding month last year.
Oil imports during April-May 2013-14 rose 3.47 per cent to $29.11 billion against such imports worth $28.13 billion in the corresponding period last year.
Non-oil imports during May 2013 stood at $29.63 billion, which is 9.10 per cent higher than non-oil imports of $27.16 billion in May 2012.
Non-oil imports during April-May 2013-14 rose 11.84 per cent to $57.49 billion from $51.41 billion in April-May 2012-13.
The decline in shipments, according to commerce secretary S R Rao, is mainly due to the steps taken by the government to suspend gold trading in special economic zones (SEZs). Gold exports from SEZs in May declined by 40.8 billion.
Yet, Rao said, the rising trade deficit has largely been due to heavy imports of gold and silver, besides crude oil.
Gold and silver imports, during May 2013 grew 89 per cent to $8.39 billion while such imports in April-May 2013 period grew 109 per cent to $15.88 billion.
Rao expects exports to bounce back in June as gold trading activities have started again in SEZs.
"We have now made it mandatory that even in SEZ, gold units shall comply with the DGFT notification of minimum value addition of 3 per cent in gold jewellery and 5 per cent in gold and precious stone studded jewellery," Rao said.
He said the US market is improving and there is still no clarity on the EU. The two markets together account for about 30 per cent of India's exports.
India's current account deficit, which is a direct consequence of its ballooning trade deficit, stood at 6.7 per cent of its GDP in the 2012-13 fiscal.