India's February merchandise exports as well as imports rose in February, indicating a gradual pick-up in economic activity, official data showed on Monday.
The country's merchandise exports during the month under review rose to $27.93 billion from $27.45 billion in January and $27.74 billion in February 2020.
"Exports in February 2021 were $27.93 billion, as compared to $27.74 billion in February 2020, exhibiting a positive growth of 0.67 per cent," a Ministry of Commerce and Industry statement said.
"Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in February 2021 were $22.52 billion, as compared to $21.28 billion in February 2020, registering a positive growth of 5.84 per cent."
In terms of imports, India's inbound shipments in February 2021 increased by 6.96 per cent to $40.54 billion from $37.90 billion during the corresponding period of 2020.
On a sequential basis, they stood lower than January's import bill of $41.99 billion.
"Cumulative value of imports for the period April-February 2020-21 was USD 340.80 billion, as against USD 443.24 billion during the period April-February 2019-20, registering a negative growth of (-) 23.11 per cent in dollar terms."
Last month, oil imports were $8.99 billion, as compared to $10.78 billion in February 2020, a decline of 16.63 per cent.
"Non-oil and non-gold imports were USD 26.27 billion in February 2021, recording a positive growth of 6.07 per cent, as compared to non-oil and non-gold imports of USD 24.76 billion in February 2020."
Consequently, trade deficit stood at $12.62 billion in February 2021.
The deficit increased by 24.14 per cent on a year-on-year basis from $10.16 billion reported for February 2020.
India's trade deficit had stood at $14.54 billion in January 2021.
"While the oil deficit eased, the non-oil merchandise trade deficit widened considerably to $6.4 billion in February 2021 from $2.8 billion in February 2020, more than 80 per cent of which was on account of a surge in gold imports after the presentation of the Union Budget," said Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA.
"Although a favourable base effect will push up the growth of both imports and exports in March 2021, we expect the trade deficit to widen to US$13.5-14.0 billion in the ongoing month."
According to EEPC India Chairman Mahesh Desai, vaccine roll-out by major countries will boost exports from India.
"Engineering goods export, however, saw minor dip during this period but we hope the trend to reverse given that most major economies have rolled out vaccination drives against coronavirus," he said.
"Measures by the government to rein in domestic steel prices and 'Production Linked Incentive' (PLI) schemes announced for various sectors are set to boost exports from the country."