A decline in exports in sectors such as engineering, ready-made garments of all textiles and rice led to a contraction in the country's overall outbound shipments by 3.52 per cent to $32.62 billion in September, while the trade deficit widened to $26.72 billion, according to the preliminary data released by the commerce ministry on Monday.
The other export sectors that recorded a dip in the growth rate included chemicals, and cotton yarn, fabrics and made-ups during September.
Imports during the month, however, grew by 5.44 per cent to $59.35 billion as against $56.29 billion in September 2021, the data showed.
The exports during April-September 2022-23 rose by 15.54 per cent to $229.05 billion. The imports during the period increased by 37.89 per cent to $378.53 billion. The trade deficit during the first six months of the fiscal has widened to $149.47 billion as against $76.25 billion during April-September 2021-22.
In August, the outbound shipments rose marginally by 1.62 per cent to $33.92 billion, while the trade deficit more than doubled to $27.98 billion due to increased crude oil imports. The trade deficit in September 2021 was $22.47 billion.
"India has achieved a monthly value of merchandise export in September 2022 amounting $32.62 billion, decreased by 3.52 per cent over $33.81 billion in September 2021," the ministry said in a statement.
Crude oil imports in September declined to $15.6 billion as against $16.8 billion in the same month last year. Gold imports too dipped to $3.65 billion as compared to $5.11 billion in September 2021.
A dip in the import values in September was also witnessed in commodity groups such as chemicals ($2.42 billion against $2.48 billion) and vegetable oil ($1.9 billion against $2 billion).
However, the imports of coal, coke and briquettes rose to $3.43 billion in September as against $2.19 billion in September 2021. The imports of machinery, transport equipment and iron steel also recorded a positive growth in September.
The data further showed that the export of engineering goods dipped to $7.81 billion in September as against $9.41 billion in the same month last year. Similarly, the export of rice declined to $733.33 million as against $779.81 million in September 2021. Shipments of ready-made garments of all textiles decreased to $1.02 billion in September as compared to $1.3 billion in the same month last year.
Export sectors that recorded a positive growth in September under review include petroleum products, gems and jewellery, electronic goods and marine products.
Commenting on the numbers, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) director general Ajay Sahai said the slowdown in exports is primarily a reflection of the toughening conditions of global trade, which is facing a demand slowdown on account of high inventories, rising inflation, high volatility in currencies and geopolitical tensions.
"The drop in commodity prices and restrictions on some exports due to rising domestic prices have also added to the slowdown. The next few months would be quite challenging unless the geopolitical situation improves drastically," Sahai told PTI.