New Delhi: Despite a slowdown in global demand, India’s services segments have helped the country’s total exports and imports of goods and services to surpass the $800 billion mark during the first half of 2023, think tank GTRI said in a report.
According to the Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) analysis, exports of goods and services increased by 1.5% to $385.4 billion during January-June this year, as against $379.5 billion in January-June 2022.
However, imports declined by 5.9 per cent to $415.5 billion during the six months of this year, from $441.7 billion from January-June 2022.
“India’s foreign trade (exports and imports of merchandise and services) reached $800.9 billion during January-June 2023, exhibiting a decline of 2.5 per cent over the same period last year (January-June 2022),” the report said.
On a standalone basis, goods exports dipped by 8.1 per cent to $218.7 billion, while imports contracted by 8.3 per cent to $325.7 billion. On the other hand, services exports during the six months period grew by 17.7 per cent to $166.7 billion, while imports rose by 3.7 per cent to $89.8 billion.
“Data is showing a modest decline due to weak global demand and losing competitiveness in labour-intensive sectors. The merchandise exports declined despite the appreciating INR (Indian Rupee). INR/USD exchange rate appreciated from 76.16 in April 2022 to 82.18 in Apr 2023,” Ajay Srivastava, GTRI Co-founder, said.
He said the world trade outlook for 2023 is weak due to several factors, including the continuing war in Ukraine, tighter monetary policy, financial uncertainty and high inflation.
“But these factors will soon be overshadowed by a spate of new subsidies and protectionist measures by the EU and USA. For example, in the first seven months of 2023 alone, the EU has introduced five climate change and trade regulations, each of which are essentially measures to curb imports,” he said.
Further, he said, India should continue to focus on expanding product quality and supply chain competitiveness, adding since every big country is in inward mode, India should not surrender its policy space, especially in new issues in FTAs (free trade agreements) and Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).
The report noted 11 of 29 product categories contributing to 25 per cent of India’s exports registered positive export growth during January-June 2023, over the same period last year.
Those sectors include Telecom, Computer and electronics items; boilers, Machinery, turbines; pharmaceuticals; ceramic products.
During January-June this year, smartphone exports jumped to $7.5 billion from $2.5 billion in January-June 2022.
However, exports in 18 of 29 product categories contributing to 75 per cent of total merchandise exports declined during the period, including vegetables, fruits, cereals, spices; dairy products; fish, meat; textiles, garments; carpets, footwear; and leather.
“India’s exports exceed USD one billion with 41 countries. India’s export promotion must focus on these countries as these countries account for 87 per cent of India’s exports. India’s exports grew positively in 12 of these countries and declined in 29 countries,” he said.
During January-June 2023, the top 15 countries with which India has the highest trade deficit include China ($38.1 billion), Russia ($29.6 billion), Saudi Arabia ($12.9 billion), Iraq ($12.5 billion) and Switzerland ($7.5 billion).
Regarding free trade agreements, The report said the share of FTA partners in India’s merchandise exports decreased from 30.1 per cent in the first six months of 2022 to 26.8 per cent in 2023.
This includes total merchandise exports and not the preferential exports for which data is not in the public domain.