Exports of over half of the 30 sectors closely monitored by the Commerce Ministry were in the negative zone in March due to a fall in global commodity prices amid tepid demand.
Outbound shipments of as many as 17 key sectors, including petroleum products, textiles, man-made yarn and fabrics, engineering and leather dipped during the month under review, according to the ministry data.
Exporters’ body Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) expressed serious concerns over the trade data and asked the government to take immediate steps to contain this persistent dip.
“Almost all the major sectors have either shown a negative growth or a declining trend during the last three months.
These sectors together accounts for well over two third of exports,” FIEO President S C Ralhan said.
Falling for a 16th straight month in a row, exports dipped 5.47% to $22.71 billion in March.
The continuous decline in exports is expected to impact jobs and put pressure on the current account deficit.
“Order book position of exporters are not good. Going by this trend, job losses may start,” Ralhan said.
During the month, top two sectors — engineering and petroleum products — contracted 11.29% and 21.43%, respectively. Gems and Jewellery exports grew by a mere 4.61%.
As the labour-intensive jewellery sector has huge potential, the Commerce Ministry is planning to extend some incentives for them.
These three sectors make up about 55% of the country’s total exports.
Agri-products, which constitute over 10% of the country’s total shipments, too recorded a negative growth during the month under review.
Overall, nine out of 13 main agriculture products slipped into negative territory.
Exports of rice, cashew and oil meals fell 27.67%, 17% and 72.3%, respectively.
Other products that have reported a negative growth include cereals, oil seeds and marine products.
Decline in these exports has been instrumental in dragging down India’s overall merchandise exports. Due to continuous dip, the total merchandise shipments in 2015-16 declined to by 15.85% to $261.13 billion, a five year low figure.
India has aimed at taking exports of goods and services to $900 billion by 2020 and raising the country’s share in world exports to 3.5% from 2%.
On the other hand, exports of pharmaceuticals, plastic, carpet, chemicals, tea have recorded positive growth in March.