India’s trade deficit soared to $185 billion in fiscal 2011-12 as a 32.1 percent jump in imports outpaced a 21 percent growth in exports.
“This is the highest ever trade deficit and is a serious concern,” Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said in New Delhi, releasing the latest provisional trade figures.
Officials said total exports for 2011-12 ended March 31 reached an “all-time high” of $303.7 billion, just surpassing the target of $300 billion set by the Commerce Ministry. “This was achieved despite a slowdown in demand in major global markets like the U.S. and Europe,” they said.
According to the ministry, export growth was primarily led by petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, ready-made garments, cotton yarn and engineering goods, which rose 38.5 percent, 21.9 percent, 18 percent, 17.4 percent and 16.9 percent, respectively, in value terms.
The country’s overall inbound trade for the full fiscal year totaled $488.6 billion, also setting a record.
Petroleum imports surged 46.9 percent year-over-year to $155.6 billion while imports of capital goods such as industrial machinery increased 27.7 percent to $35.4 billion. Imports of coal rose 80.3 percent to $17.6 billion and fertilizer, 59 percent to $11 billion.
India, one of the world’s fast-growing economies, recently announced a “comprehensive export strategy” aimed at doubling the country’s outbound trade volume to $500 billion by 2014.