India’s exports in March fell for the first time since the 2009 global financial crisis as demand weakened in the United States and Europe, further clouding the outlook for the country’s balance of payments.
Exports fell 5.7% to $28.7 billion from the same period a year earlier, continuing a sharp slowdown in shipments in recent months that, combined with high imports of oil and gold, has sparked concern over India’s swelling trade deficit.
“The contraction in exports is worrisome,” said Anubhuti Sahay, an economist at Standard Chartered bank.
“We still need to see if the contraction is just a temporary blip or not. It is not surprising, though, because if you talk about the main trading partners in Europe, there is a slowdown there.”
India’s balance of payments slipped into negative territory for the first time in three years in the three months through December on shrinking dollar inflows. The current account deficit was $19.6 billion in the December quarter, higher than $9.7 billion a year earlier.
Rising global oil prices pushed up import bills for the country, which buys more than 80% of its oil from overseas.
Imports rose 24.3% to $42.6 billion in March. Oil imports rose 32.5% to $15.8 billion. The trade deficit was $13.9 billion.
Exports rose an annual 21% to $303.7 billion for the fiscal year 2011-12, while imports rose 32.2% to $488.6 billion, figures released by the trade ministry also showed. The trade deficit for the full fiscal year was $184.9 billion.