India's merchandise exports in May rose by 20.55 per cent to $38.94 billion, while the trade deficit ballooned to a record $24.29 billion, according to the government data released on Wednesday.
Imports during May 2022 grew by 62.83 per cent to $63.22 billion, the data showed. The trade deficit stood at $6.53 billion in the same month last year.
Cumulative exports in April-May 2022-23 rose by about 25 per cent to $78.72 billion.
Imports in April-May 2022-23 increased 45.42 per cent to $123.41 billion.
The trade deficit during the first two months of this fiscal widened to $44.69 billion against $21.82 billion in the year-ago period.
Commenting in the figures, ICRA Ltd chief economist Aditi Nayar said that the mild sequential dip in non-oil exports amidst a sharp jump in gold imports widened India's merchandise trade deficit to a massive $24 billion in May 2022.
"Based on the expectation that gold imports may reduce after the Akshaya Tritiya season, the trade deficit may demonstrate some moderation in the current month," she said.
She added that based on the performance in April-May 2022, "we foresee" the current account deficit to widen to $26 billion in Q1 FY23, from $23 billion in Q3 FY22 and an expected $ 16 billion in Q4 FY22," she said.
Petroleum and crude oil imports during May 2022 surged 102.72 per cent to $19.2 billion. Coal, coke and briquettes imports jumped to $5.5 billion against $2 billion in May 2021.
Gold imports increased to $6 billion during the month under review from $677 million in May 2021.
Engineering goods exports in May increased by 12.65 per cent to $9.7 billion, while petroleum products exports grew by 60.87 per cent to $8.54 billion.
Gems and jewellery exports stood at $3.22 billion in May compared to $2.96 billion in the same month last year.
Exports of chemicals rose 17.35 per cent to $2.5 billion in May.
Similarly, shipments of pharma and ready-made garments of all textiles grew by 10.28 per cent and 27.85 per cent to $2 billion and $1.41 billion, respectively.
Export sectors that recorded negative growth in May included iron ore, cashew, handicrafts, plastics, carpet and spices.
The commerce ministry said the estimated value of services import for May is $14.43 billion, exhibiting a positive growth of 45.01 per cent compared to $9.95 billion in the same month last year.
"The estimated value of services imports for April-May 2022 is $28.48 billion exhibiting a positive growth of 45.52 per cent vis-a-vis April-May 2021 ($19.57 billion)," it added.