Higher gold imports, low exports weigh as India’s trade deficit widens to $19.1 billion


India’s merchandise trade deficit widened to $19.1 billion in the month of April, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said on Wednesday. A Reuters poll of economists had pegged April’s trade deficit at $17.23 billion.India’s trade deficit had narrowed to a 11-month low of $15.6 billion in March.Merchandise exports inched up 1.06 per cent on an annual basis to $34.99 billion. Meanwhile, imports in April grew 10.3 per cent year-on-year to $54.09 billion after growing $57.28 billion in March government data showed.Merchandise exports and imports in March were $41.68 billion and $57.28 billion respectively.”We are hopeful on trade growth in the current financial year,” said Barthwal. “Goods exports in april have gone up,” he noted.The increase in the import bill was attributed to rise in inbound shipments of of gold, petroleum products, electronics, and pulses, according to the data. In April, oil imports amounted to $16.46 billion. Gold imports surged in April to $3.11 billion, more than doubling from $1.53 billion in March. Meanwhile, oil imports totaled $16.46 billion, slightly lower than the previous month’s $17.23 billion. India, the world’s third-largest consumer of oil, reported these figures, indicating fluctuations in trade dynamics. “Gold imports are well within the average trend. It is not an exception,” Barthwal said.”Most of the central banks are buying gold because of conflicts. Gold prices have increased and in terms of value imports are appearing to be high,” he added.India’s foreign reserves saw an increase in the proportion of gold holdings, rising from 7.37 per cent at the end of September to 8.15 per cent by the end of March.The World Trade Organization forecasts a 2.6% increase in total goods trade for 2024, rebounding from a 1.2% decline in the previous year.


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