February exports rise fastest in 11 months at $208 b

Engineering sector energises good show

February exports rise fastest in 11 months at $208 b

Exports jumped by 49.8 per cent year-on-year during February to $23.6 billion, taking the April-January, 2010-11, figure to $208.2 billion, an increase of 31.4 per cent over the year-ago period and past the yearly target of $200 billion.

“We have crossed the $200 billion mark. The current forecast for the (fiscal) year is $230-235 billion,” Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said. Imports also went up by 21.2 per cent in February to $31.7 billion, leaving a trade deficit to $8.1 billion.

During the first 11 months of the financial year, imports grew by 18 per cent to $305.3 billion vis-a-vis the same period last year. The trade gap for the period stood at $97.1 billion.

“In imports, we will end up (the fiscal) closer to $350 billion... On the whole, we are looking at balance of trade at $105-115 billion,” he said, adding, “(It depends) on how well or bad we do on the export and import fronts.”

However, Khullar said that the import figures will change as they will be revised once definitive figures are formulated.

He also said that export numbers for January and February from special economic zones are also coming in, so “by the end of March when I will give you the full year numbers, you should not be surprised if there is a bump up in the exports numbers.” He said that the sectors which performed well during the 11 months of fiscal include engineering (81 per cent), petroleum and oil lubricants (34 per cent), cotton yarn and made-ups (43 per cent), plastics (41 per cent), chemicals (22 per cent), electronics (40 per cent), carpets (37 per cent) and marine (20 per cent).

Engineering exports

Khullar said engineering exports are doing “remarkably” well and are expected to touch $55-56 billion by the end of this year. Engineering goods constitute about 25 per cent of India’s total exports.

“In the next 3-5 years, essentially India has to look to capitalise on its engineering and chemical industry,” he said.

However, a few sectors where exports are still in the red include iron ore, fruits and vegetables and cotton yarn, on account of restrictions imposed on overseas shipments. In addition, tea exports exhibited a decline during the year.

The official figures for February will be released on April 1.

On imports, he said during April-February 2010-11, imports of pearls and precious stones went up by 55 per cent, vegetable oil by 18 per cent, machinery by 19 per cent, chemicals (25 per cent), coal (12 per cent), ores and scraps (31 per cent), petroleum and oil lubricants (12.5 per cent) and fertilisers (6 per cent).

Talking about increasing imports, he said, “The reason is that I expect import next month (in March) at about $30 billion and I expect a correction of about $10 billion because of oil prices and the fact that import data was not captured for couple of months correctly.”

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