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India March exports seen down 31% – trade secretary

Posted on: April 17, 2009


Reuters – Tuesday, April 14

By Rajesh Kumar Singh

NEW DELHI, April 13 – India’s exports fell for a sixth straight month according to the latest provisional estimate for March, and are likely to extend the fall till September before recovering, the trade secretary said on Monday.

Recession in developed economies crimped demand for Indian goods and export growth slowed to 7.3 percent in April-February to $156.6 billion from a year earlier, sharply lower from close to 20 percent seen in 2007/08.

“March exports, we have only the provisional estimates…It is just under $12 billion,” G.K. Pillai told reporters, adding it would be about 31 percent lower from the previous year.

“This negative growth will continue up till September… Then, you will find a positive growth.”

The demand for Indian goods in Latin America and South-east Asia remains “quite high”, but it needs to pick up in U.S. and Europe, which consume about 35 percent of Indian exports, he said.

The final figures for 2008/09 exports is seen touching a lower revised annual target of $170 billion and may remain flat at that level in 2009/10, he said.

SLOWDOWN AT HOME

While exports, which make about a fifth of India’s gross domestic product, have been contracting since October, imports started falling from January as slowing demand at home cut import of capital goods and lower global crude prices slashed the fuel bill.

Pillai said India’s imports may have fallen 37 percent in March.

On Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Indian economy may have grown slightly below 7 percent in 2008/09, its slowest pace in the last six years, with analysts forecasting a further contraction in the current fiscal.

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