India's merchandise exports grew 3.74 per cent on a year-on-year basis in January to $26.36 billion, from $25.41 billion reported for the corresponding month of last year, official data showed on Friday.
Commerce Ministry data showed that although the country's trade deficit last month at $14.73 billion decreased compared to the deficit of $15.67 billion in January last year, it was, however, higher than the $13.08 billion trade deficit recorded in December 2018.
The higher trade deficit in January over the previous month was mainly on account of the rise in gold imports, which jumped 38.16 per cent year-on-year to $2.31 billion.
"Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in January 2019 were $19.90 billion, as compared to $18.40 billion in January 2018, exhibiting a positive growth of 8.17 per cent," the Ministry said in a statement.
"Cumulative value of exports for the period April-January 2018-19 was $271.80 billion as against $248.18 billion during the period April-January 2017-18, registering a positive growth of 9.52 per cent in dollar terms," it said.
As per the data, organic and inorganic chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery and engineering goods showed high export growth during the month under review.
On the other hand, imports were flat in January, growing only 0.01 per cent to $41.09 billion, from $41.08 billion reported for the corresponding month of 2018.
Oil imports in January 2019 were $11.24 billion, which was 3.59 per cent lower in dollar terms, compared to $11.66 billion in January 2018 on account of a fall in global crude oil rates, the statement said.
"The global Brent price ($/barrel) has decreased by 14.09 per cent in January 2019 vis-à-vis January 2018 as per data available from World Bank," it said.
As per Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, services exports in December 2018 at $ 17.93 billion saw a growth of 7.50 per cent over the previous month.
Services imports in December at $11.38 billion registered a healthy growth of 12.53 per cent over November 2018.
Consequently, India's trade balance in services for December came in at $ 6.55 billion.
Taking merchandise and services together, the overall trade deficit for the first ten months of the current fiscal was at $90.58 billion, as compared to $75.73 billion during April-January of 2017-18, it said.
Commenting on the trade data, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said that the nominal growth in exports in January is the result of "tough global condition and some constraints on the domestic front."
"Almost all the sectors during the month have shown nominal growth. However petroleum was one of the sectors which showed higher negative growth further pulling down the overall exports," FIEO President Ganesh Kumar Gupta said in a statement.
"The FIEO Chief once again reiterated his demand for urgent and immediate support including augmenting the flow of credit, higher tax deduction for R&D and better fiscal support including augmenting the budgetary support for marketing and exports related infrastructure," the FIEO statement said.