Contracting for the 10th month in a row, India's merchandise exports dipped 24.33 per cent in September to USD 21.84 billion, mainly due to steep fall in shipments of petroleum products, iron ore, and engineering goods amid tepid global demand.
The imports too shrank 25.42 per cent to USD 32.32 billion in September on yearly basis, thus narrowing the trade gap to 10.47 billion from USD 14.47 billion recorded in the same month of 2014.
Exports in September 2014 were valued at USD 28.86 billion.
The cumulative exports during the first half of 2015-16 have been valued at USD 132.93 billion versus USD 161.39 billion in the same period of last year. Exports were down 17.36 per cent yera-on-year in the first half of 2015-16.
As per the data released by the Commerce Ministry, the trade gap or trade deficit during April-September 2015-16 has narrowed to USD 67.99 billion as against USD 72.69 billion in the same period last fiscal.
The data further showed that oil imports during September were valued at USD 6.62 billion, down 54.53 per cent year-on - year. Oil imports during April-September stood at USD 48.128 billion which were 41.58 per cent lower than that of USD 82.378 billion in the corresponding period last year.
Gold imports declined by 45.62 per cent in September to USD 2 billion from USD 3.78 billion in the same month of 2014.
On export front, shipments of petroleum products shrank 60.35 per cent to USD 2.44 billion while that of iron ore declined by 40.37 per cent to 9.47 million.
A sharp decline in exports of engineering products was also witnessed in September. The shipments declined by 22.81 per cent to USD 5 billion from USD 6.5 billion in the year ago period.
The decline in exports in September is the steepest since March 2015 when the shipments shrunk by 21.06 per cent.
Expressing disappointment over the September numbers, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President S C Ralhan said the decline of 17.6 per cent in first six months of the fiscal will put enormous pressure even in realising the export figure which India achieved in 2014-15.
"As against seven sectors which were in positive out of 30 for which disaggregated data is available for August, the number of sectors has further compressed to six only for the month of September," he said.
Ralhan however expressed the hope that export numbers in coming months would be better following cut in interest rate by the RBI and encouraging IIP and manufacturing data of August.
The data showed that non-oil imports during September were estimated at USD 25.697 billion which were 10.68 per cent lower than USD 28.76 billion in the same month of 2014.
Non-oil imports during April-September, 2015-16 were valued at USD 152.805 billion, up 0.72 per cent from the same period last year.