India's external trade turned positive, perhaps for the first time, with growth in exports surpassing that of imports for the first time, in September 2017, bringing festive cheer for exporters and policy-makers.
Merchandise exports from the country moved to a higher growth trajectory of 25.67 per cent with September exports reaching $28.61 billion, helped by better performance by all the top 10 commodity groups, ranging from engineering items to textiles.
Although exports have been in the positive zone for the past 13 month, it is for the first time that growth in exports surpassed that of imports.
The trade deficit, too, narrowed in September by 0.95 per cent to $8.98 billion against 9.07 billion in September last year, but the overall trade deficit during the April-September 2017-18 period stood at $72.13 billion.
Cumulative exports during April-September 2017-18 stood at $147.19 billion against cumulative imports of $219.32 billion, leaving a gap of $72.13 billion
Import growth rate was slightly lower than export growth, with gold imports declining by 5 per cent.
Imports into the country increased 18.09 per cent in September 2017 to $37.59 billion, according to an official data released on Friday.
Imports during September 2017 were valued at $37.60 billion (Rs242,282.96 crore) which was 18.09 per cent higher in dollar terms and 14.02 per cent higher in rupee terms over the level of imports valued at $31.84 billion (Rs212,486.28 crore) in September 2016.
Cumulative value of imports for April-September 2017-18 stood at $219.32 billion (Rs141,1872.70 crore) against $175.34 billion (Rs1,173,664.70 crore), recording a positive growth of 25.08 per cent in dollar terms and 20.30 per cent in rupee terms over the same period last year.
Exports during September 2017 were valued at $28.61 billion (Rs. 184387.36 crore ), showing a growth of 25.67 per cent in dollar terms and 21.35 per cent in rupee terms compared to exports valued at $22.77 billion (Rs151,950.74 crore) in September 2016.
Apart from engineering goods exports, which posted a sharp increase of 44 per cent during the month to $7.32 billion, other sectors that registered growth included gems and jewellery, petro products, organic and inorganic chemicals, readymade garments, drugs and pharmaceuticals, cotton yarn/fabs/made-ups, handloom products, marine products, rice and electronic goods.
Oil imports, at $8.18 billion were 18.4 per cent higher than in September 2016. Non-oil imports, at $29.40 billion, were 17.9 per cent higher. Gold imports came in at $ 1.71 billion.