India's trade deficit narrowed to $95.29 billion for April-February 2016-17, showing a decline of 16.65 per cent from the deficit of $114.32 billion for April-February 2015-16, helped by continuing increase in its exports.
Although merchandise exports from the country grew 17.48 per cent year-on-year to $24.49 billion last month, its imports also rose 21.76 per cent to $33.39 billion, a commerce ministry release showed.
Merchandise exports rose in February, for the sixth straight month in the current fiscal, helped by a pick-up in engineering sales despite fears of protectionist and anti-trade sentiment in the United States and Europe.
Exports during February 2017 for the first time exhibited a double-digit growth of 17.48 per cent in dollar terms valued at $24.49 billion compared to $20.85 billion during February 2016. In rupee terms, exports during February 2017 were valued at Rs164,269.71 crore compared to Rs142,246.46 crore during February 2016 – a growth of 15.48 per cent.
India's foreign trade deficit narrowed to $8.9 billion in February from a provisional $9.84 billion the previous month, government data showed.
Cumulative value of exports for April-February 2016-17 stood at $245.41 billion (Rs1,648,743.26 crore) against $239.38 billion (Rs1,562,819.14 crore), showing a growth of 2.52 per cent in dollar terms and a 5.50 per cent growth in rupee terms.
Non-petroleum (also excluding gems and jewellery) exports in February 2017 were valued at $18.01 billion against $14.99 billion in February 2016, an increase of 20.15 per cent.
Such exports during April-February 2016-17 stood at $179.14 billion compared to $175.35 billion in the corresponding period in 2016 - an increase of 2.16 per cent.
India imported goods worth $33.39 billion (Rs223,942.06 crore) in February, which was 21.76 per cent higher in dollar terms and 19.69 per cent higher in rupee terms over the level of imports valued at $27.42 billion (Rs187,100.79 crore) in February 2016. Cumulative value of imports during April-February 2016-17 stood at $340.70 billion (Rs2,289,598.48 crore) against $353.40 billion (Rs2,307,259.36 crore) – a negative growth of 3.67 per cent in dollar terms and 0.77 per cent in rupee terms over the same period last year.
India's oil imports during February 2017 were valued at $7.68 billion, 60.02 per cent higher than oil imports valued at $4.80 billion in February 2016. Oil imports during April-February 2016-17 were valued at $76.74 billion, which was 1.76 per cent lower than the oil imports of $78.12 billion in the corresponding period last year.
Non-oil imports during February 2017 were estimated at $25.71 billion, which was 13.65 per cent higher than non-oil imports of $22.62 billion in February 2016. Non-oil imports during April-February 2016-17 were valued at $263.95 billion, which was 4.22 per cent lower than the level of such imports valued at $275.57 billion in April-February 2015-16.
India, the world's third-largest steel producer, has also raised import duty on steel and set a floor price to protect local mills - a measure challenged by Japan.
Iron and steel imports declined 14.2 per cent in February to $6.3 billion from a year ago, while engineering products exports grew 47.3 per cent to $6.6 billion in the same period.