The country’s trade deficit widened to its highest level in more than five years in June, driven largely by a surge in oil prices and a weaker rupee, according to official figures released on Friday. Though merchandise exports rose 17.57 per cent year-on-year in June, the trade deficit widened to $16.6 billion from $14.62 billion in May.
Oil imports rose by a staggering 56.61 per cent to $12.73 billion. India’s oil import bill, the world’s third biggest crude importer, rose sharply with global oil prices amid concerns that US sanctions against Iran would remove a substantial volume of crude oil from the world markets.
Oil imports during April- June 2018-19 were valued at USD 34.64 billion which was 49.44 per cent higher as compared to the same period last year. Overall goods imports rose by 21.31 per cent to USD 44.3 billion during the month, according to the data released by the commerce ministry.
Gold imports in June dipped by about 3 per cent to USD 2.38 billion The trade deficit in June 2018 is the highest since November 2014 when the gap was USD 16.86 billion. The deficit in June 2017 stood at USD 12.96 billion.
During April-June this fiscal, exports rose by 14.21 per cent to USD 82.47 billion. Exports of petroleum products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery, and engineering goods registered a positive growth.
However, shipments of textiles, leather, marine products, poultry, cashew, rice and coffee recorded negative growth.
Federation of Indian Export Organisations president Ganesh Gupta expressed concern over rising trade deficit.