India Balance of Trade

India's trade deficit widens even as Export growth rebounds in October.

Published by Ministry of Commerce and Industry, RBI. Updated until October 2018. (Published on November 15th, 2018)  

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 widened to USD 17.13 billion in Oct'18 after declining to a five-month low in Sep'18. The significant expansion in the trade balance was due to continued rise in imports. Exports on the other hand, bounced back compared to same month last year, growing by 17.8% YoY in Oct'18.

Imports grew by 17.6% YoY reaching USD 44.1 billion in Oct'18 on the back of oil imports which surged by 52.6% YoY in Oct'18. Continued increase in prices of crude oil in the global market had contributed to the rise in India's import bill leading to a trade gap of near 5-yr high of USD 17.4 billion in Aug'18. The rise in imports was at a much higher pace compared to the rise in exports. However, with the softening of crude oil prices since the beginning of Oct'18 we can hope to see lesser impact on India's import bill. This could impact on the current account.

Exports growth in Oct'18 to USD 26.98 billion surely bounced back compared to USD 22.89 billion in the same month last year. This pick up was much needed as the government had been facing outrage due to domestic fuel prices and sliding rupee (reaching the 74 mark against the USD). The export growth, if it continues can help lower some pressure on the current account. Exports of petroleum products, electronic goods, chemicals and textiles saw an increase in Oct'18.

We feel, the worsening of trade balance is not a good sign and the government must take steps to revive the external sector, given that the currrent account deficit (CAD) has already reached 2.4% of GDP in Q2 F19. It is important that the government tries to fulfill the target of maintaining its CAD of 3.3% of GDP for FY19, as it will be a positive for the current government in the next year's elections. This will also help support continued growth recovery of the sixth largest 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: December 13th, 2018

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.