Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

Latest Trade Data : India’s Merchandise Exports and Imports


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India's export and import and the current trends

Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has released the latest trade data that shows a continued contraction in India’s merchandise exports and imports in February. It indicates a slowdown in both the global and domestic economies.


  • The pace of contraction has deepened, and this has resulted in a further narrowing of the country’s merchandise trade deficit.
  • The disaggregated data shows that core-exports and core imports have continued to contract, and there has been a softening in imports of consumer and investment goods, pointing towards weakening domestic demand.

What the data shows?

  • Deepening of Contraction: Both exports and imports have seen a deepening of the pace of contraction. Merchandise exports fell by 8.8% in February, while imports declined by 8.2% in the same month. These figures follow a decline of 6.6% and 3.6% in exports and imports respectively in January.
  • Narrowing Trade Deficit: The contraction has led to a further narrowing of the trade deficit to $17.4 billion in February.
  • Impact on Export Destinations: The report by Nomura reveals that the sharpest declines have been observed in India’s exports to the US, China, Japan, and the rest of Asia.
  • Overall Growth: The higher export growth in the first half of the financial year has pushed overall growth for the year so far (April-February) to 7.55%.

Sectors Affected

  1. Exports side:
  • The disaggregated data reveals that core exports, which exclude exports of oil, gold, and gems and jewellery, have continued to contract.
  • 16 out of the 30 main export segments have fallen in February, including labour-intensive segments such as leather and textiles.
  • Non-oil non-gems and jewellery exports are almost at the same level as last year.
  1. On the imports side:
  • Core imports, which exclude oil, gold, and gems and jewellery, have also continued to contract.
  • The data points towards a softening of imports of consumer and investment goods, indicative of weakening domestic demand.

Back to basics: Trade Deficit

  • A trade deficit occurs when a country’s imports of goods and services exceed its exports.
  • In other words, it is the amount by which the value of a country’s imports exceeds the value of its exports. It is often seen as an indicator of a country’s economic competitiveness and can have implications for the overall balance of payments and the strength of the domestic currency.

How Narrowing of trade deficit is beneficial?

  • Narrowing of the trade deficit means that the country is importing fewer goods than it is exporting, which can improve the overall balance of payments and help to strengthen the domestic currency.
  • This can also have positive effects on the economy by reducing the dependence on foreign borrowing and boosting domestic production and employment.

The outlook for exports remains subdued

  • According to a report by Crisil, India’s merchandise export growth is likely to moderate to 2-4 per cent in the coming fiscal year as two of the country’s biggest destinations for exports the US and EU are expected to slow down sharply.
  • As per the International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook, the US economic growth is expected to slow down from 2 per cent in 2022 to 1.4 per cent in 2023, while the Euro region is expected to moderate from 3.5 per cent to 0.7 per cent over the same period.


  • The trade data indicates a slowdown in the economy. Sluggish exports and tight monetary policy are expected to reduce growth further. This assessment by the World economic outlook implies that exports are unlikely to provide a fillip to growth. The overall economic momentum will be further weighed down as the full impact of the RBI’s tighter monetary policy will be felt across the country.

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