Improved demand from the United States, European Union and Japan helped increase India's exports for the fifth month in a row in January, indicating that demonetisation has not hit exports as much as feared. A faster increase in imports, however, widened the trade deficit.
Exports went up 4.3% in January from a year ago to $22.1 billion. Imports rose 10.7% to $31.9 billion during the month, yielding a $9.8 billion trade deficit in January compared with $7.6 billion in the year-ago period.
Gold imports declined almost 30% to $2.04 billion in January.
As many as 17 out of 30 exporting sectors showed an increase in shipments, but labour intensive sectors such as leather, carpets, and gems and jewellery reported a fall in exports.
Global trade is expected to have grown about 1.7% in 2016 from the previous year. Exports got a boost from higher crude prices. Among non-oil merchandise exports, engineering goods did well while gems and jewellery, and drugs and pharmaceuticals saw a decline.
Oil imports in January saw a 61% spike to $8.14 billion while non-oil imports were flat at $23.8 billion.
Non-oil, non-gold imports rose 4.2% in January, in line with 4.4% rise in the previous month, driven by coal imports.
Trade deficit in first ten months of 2016-17 was $86.3 billion, 19.82% lower than deficit of $107.7 billion a year ago.