India's trade deficit widens to $20 bn in January

New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) India's trade deficit widened to $20 billion in January, the second highest ever monthly gap, as exports remained weak while imports rose, putting further pressure on the country's current account deficit.

After contracting for the eight consecutive months, exports increased marginally by 0.82 percent to $25.58 billion in January, according to data released by the ministry of commerce and industry here Wednesday.

India's imports increased by 6.12 percent to $45.58 billion, leaving monthly trade deficit of $20 billion.

This is the second highest ever trade deficit. In October last year, trade deficit was recorded $20.9 billion, which is the highest trade gap posted in India so far.

Commerce Secretary S.R. Rao said the widening trade deficit was a cause of concern.

He said the trade deficit had widened largely due to increased demands for petroleum products.

"There was a huge surge of imports of petroleum goods, which we believe is essentially due to added consumption in the power sector," Rao told reporters here.

The cumulative trade deficit in April-January period of the current financial year increased to $167.16 billion as compared to $154.89 billion recorded in the corresponding period of last fiscal.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma hoped the trade deficit would moderate in the coming months with revival in exports.

"Oil import bill is definitely a challenge, but for a growing economy, energy needs have to be met," Sharma said at an event organised by Nasscom in Mumbai.

Oil imports in January 2013 were valued at $15.89 billion, 6.91 percent higher than oil imports bill of $14.87 billion recorded in the corresponding month of last year.

The total value of oil imports in April-January period has increased to $140.42 billion, 11.56 percent higher than the oil imports bill of $125.87 billion recorded in the first 10 months of 2011-12.

the cumulative value of exports for the period April-January 2012-13 was $239.68 billion, which is 4.86 percent less than the $251.93 billion exports registered in the corresponding period of previous fiscal.

Exports have registered year-on-year growth only twice in the first 10 months of the current financial year.

The cumulative value of imports for the period April-January, 2012-13 was $406.85 billion, which is marginally lower than the $406.82 billion imports recorded in the same period of 2011-12.

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