Commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal told reporters the decline, fastest in two years, was due to global headwinds as several countries are in the midst of a slowdown as also due to the high base in December 2021, when exports of $39.3 billion were the third highest on record.
Exports have slowed down in recent months after booming to a record $422 billion during the last financial year. Barthwal said that the commerce department has undertaken a detailed analysis and is also focusing on countries that are growing faster, but is currently sticking to internal projections of $470 billion for the year. “India’s exports have held its head high. There are recessionary trends globally. So, we are facing a lot of headwinds,” the secretary said, adding that services exports will soar to new highs this year.
Official numbers released by the commerce department pegged services exports at $27.3 billion, 5% higher than a year ago, while imports went up by around the same level to $15.6 billion.
The decline in December goods exports was led by oil products (27% lower at $4.9 billion) and engineering goods (down 12% to $9.1 billion), the two largest items. Among the top 30 export items, electronics goods were the star, rising 37% to $2.3 billion. The decline in imports was driven by a 75% slump in gold (to $1.2 billion), chemicals and gems.