Trade deficit widens to three year high

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In contrast, imports grew by 7.6% to $37.1 billion in October, pushing up trade deficit to $14 billion from $11.1 billion in October 2016.

The exports dipped to United States dollars 23.09 billion in October from USD 23.36 billion in the same month previous year.

Exports during October 2017 were valued at U.S. $23,098.18 million as compared to $23,360.61 million during October 2016, registering a decline of 1.12%, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday.

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Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), president, Ganesh Kumar Gupta said that the fall was expected as exporters particularly MSME were facing liquidity problem to pay GST for four months in a row without getting any refund.

The decline was led by sharp falls in major labour-intensive sectors such as leather & leather products, gems & jewellery, handicrafts, readymade garments, and carpets. He added, "that there is immediate need for remedial measures to prevent further decline in exports otherwise the situation may be worse for November 2017".

T.S. Bhasin, chairman of the apex engineering exporters body, EEPC India, said in a statement that "the setback can be traced to disruptions due to roll-out of the GST that resulted in squeezing of working capital for exporters". This widened the trade deficit to $14.01 billion, the highest level since $14.08 billion in May 2017.

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Imports rose by 7.6% in October to $37.1 billion.

Exports of plastic and linoleum (24.5%), chemicals (22.3%), petroleum products (14.7%), engineering goods (11.7%) and marine products (8.52%) grew.

Ironically, exports fell in a month when the GST Council addressed most of the complaints of exporters, though one important measure, e-wallets, would kick in only by the next financial year.

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Growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) slowed to 3.8 per cent in September, from 4.5 per cent in August. Provisional trade figures released by the PBS revealed a 31.24 percent increase in the trade deficit during July-October 2017 over the same period a year ago. Gold imports fell 16% to $2.9 billion, while non-oil imports were 2.2% higher at $27.8 billion, indicating a slowdown in industry. It had stood at almost $9 billion in September and $11.1 billion in the year-ago period.

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