India's merchandise exports fell by nearly a quarter in September, the tenth straight month when they have shrunk, raising worries about the country's 2015-16 shipments falling short of last year's levels.
A sharper fall in imports, however, helped lower the trade deficit.
September exports fell 24.3% the most in the past 10 months from a year earlier to $21.8 billion. Led by a nearly 46% decline in the imports of gold and 54.5% in oil, the value of total imports plunged 25.42%, the steepest in more than a year, to $32.32 billion. That left a trade deficit of $10.47 billion, compared with $12.47 billion in August and $14.47 billion in the year-earlier month.
The shipments were pulled down by a fall in exports from 24 out of 30 sectors, especially petroleum products, gems and jewelry, tea, coffee, leather, engineering goods and ceramics. An overvalued rupee, declining imports from China and slower global growth are seen as reasons for India's export woes. China's imports fell 20% in September.
The contraction in exports have held back Indian economy from growing at a faster rate.The relatively stronger rupee is not helping with goods from India facing stiff competition from countries that have seen a sharp depreciation in their currencies. The commerce department is pressing for more incentives such as subsidised finance to give a boost to India's exports.
Exports in the first half of the year were about $133 billion. In 2014-15, India's exports totaled $310.5 billion.
Tobacco, oil meals and cereal preparations have been added to the new list of products showing growth, besides drugs and pharma, jute products including floor coverings and handicrafts.
Oil imports in September fell 54.53% from a year earlier to $6.62 billion. Non-oil imports at $25.69 billion were 10.68% lower.