India Balance of Trade

India's trade deficit narrowed down to a 10-month low of USD 13.08 billion in December

Published by Ministry of Commerce and Industry, RBI. Updated until December 2018. (Published on January 15th, 2019)  

Note: The seasonally adjusted series has been obtained using the Eviews census X-13 procedure X-11 method of seasonal adjustment.

Recent Data Trend

India's trade deficit narrowed to USD 13.08 billion, reaching a 10-month low, in Dec'18. The significant improvement in trade balance was mainly due to a fall in imports particularly a sharp decline in oil and gold imports.

Imports contracted by 2.15% YoY in Dec'18 for the first time in almost 2-years. The fall in imports was largely due to the sharp fall in oil and gold imports. A contraction in imports of electronic goods also helped the merchandise imports to decline. The year-on-year growth rate for oil imports fell to 3.16% in December from 41.31% in the previous month. This was mainly due to recent correction in global crude oil prices by around 40% since Oct'18. Gold imports fell by 24.33% YoY in December on account of lower domestic demand for gold. As weakening of rupee in the past months had kept the domestic prices high. The overall decline in imports can also be seen from the impact of a rise in import duties on 19 "non-essential" items in Sept'18, a step taken by the government to curb CAD.

In addition, non-oil and non-gold imports- a proxy for domestic demand- contracted for the second consecutive month. It recorded a negative growth of 1.86% YoY in Dec'18. This together with a decline in manufacturing activity in Dec'18 suggest a weakness in overall consumer demand. And this could have a negative impact on GDP in Q3 FY19.

On the other hand, exports grew marginally to USD 27.93 billion in Dec'18, compared to USD 27.83 billion in Dec'17, exhibiting a growth of 0.34% YoY. Even in the last month merchandise exports recorded a negligible growth of 0.8% YoY, signalling that the trade war and global slowdown have started impacting the world trade.

We feel, the narrowing down of trade deficit for the second month in Oct-Dec quarter will provide much relief to rising CAD, which reached an alarming level of 2.9% of GDP in the last quarter of FY19. As India imports oil, gold, and electronics in large quantities, a significant fall in imports of all of these is sure a breather for the economy.

Brief Overview

The balance of trade data records the value of merchandise trade of India with its trading partners. The data on import and export of the Indian economy is published by the Ministry of Commerce on a monthly basis. Merchandise trade is a key indicator of the development of the economy. India’s largest trade partners include US, EU, and China. India has maintained an overall trade deficit since 1990 and in the past decade, the deficit has increased manifold. According to the World Trade Organization, India’s share export of merchandise goods in 2015 was 1.5%.

For more information visit the official government website

Next Release Date: February 15, 2019

Trade Balance- Quarterly

Trade Balance- Annual

Note: Here years represent fiscal years. For example, 2016 refers to the period Apr'2016-Mar'2017 and so on.

Export by Commodities

Note: The YoY% has been calculated on absolute USD values.

Import by Commodities

Note: The YoY% has been calculated on absolute USD values.

World Commodity Prices

Note: The above data has been sourced from the World Bank Pink Sheet which provides monthly data on the prices of commodities. To know more about this, visit the official website.