For years, it remained a dream, seemingly unattainable. Finally this year, India seems to be within striking distance of attaining its oft-set, yet missed, goal of hitting $400 billion of merchandise exports in one year.
Data released Friday afternoon by the commerce ministry showed that India’s exports remained on a steady trajectory, come Third Wave or not. Income from overall trade, combining both merchandise and services exports last month stood at a healthy $57.87 billion, a year-on-year increase of 25 per cent.
“Stellar rise in exports!,” exulted union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal. “In line with the government’s vision of ‘Make in India’ for the world, India’s exports display a remarkable momentum,” he added.
Taking merchandise alone, the export figure of $37.81 billion not only shows healthy growth but takes the total from April till now to $301.38 billion—within striking distance of the $400 billion target originally set for March (the end of FY22).
“Looking at the current trend, we are on course to achieving the $400 billion merchandise exports target for the fiscal,” said A. Sakthivel, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO), adding that “spectacular exports growth coupled with orders in hand will help in pushing India’s exports further during the next fiscal thereby aiming for exports in the vicinity of $530 billion in FY23".
The numbers were pushed up by the impressive export performance of engineering goods, petroleum products, gems & jewellery, chemicals, drugs, electronic goods, cotton yarn and rice. “Out of these, many of them were labour-intensive sectors contributing majorly to the exports basket, which itself is a good sign, further helping job creation in the country,” pointed out Sakthivel.
Export momentum has been strong ever since the dip in 2020, the pandemic year. For example, while merchandise exports fell from $238 billion in April-Dec 2019 to just above $200 billion in the same period in 2020, the resurgence was better than expected in 2021, going up beyond $300 billion.
However, the high trade deficit remains a worry—despite the boom in exports, India still imports more than it exports. Overall imports grew 33 per cent last month to $72.35 billion, the amount and growth percentage both remaining higher than the indices of exports. “[That] is a point of concern and should be analysed,” said Sakthivel.