New Delhi: India's exports rose for the fifth straight month in January, up 4.32 percent, to $22.11 billion on increase in shipments of petroleum products, engineering goods and iron ore even as trade deficit widened to $9.84 billion.
The growth in shipments came despite the growing protectionist and anti-trade sentiment in the US and Europe, which exporters said pose "major challenges" for the sector in the near future.
Gold imports tumbled 29.94 percent to $2.04 billion in January, from $2.91 billion in the same month last year, as demand softened following cash crunch, post demonetisation.
Imports widened to $31.95 billion in January, up 10.7 percent from the same month last fiscal.
"While continuous positive growth in exports for the last 5 months is encouraging, the slowdown in global trade is equally affecting us. Going by the current trend, we are expected to reach around $270 billion this fiscal," said S C Ralhan, President of FIEO, an exporters' body.
Ralhan said increasing protectionism, volatility in currencies and uncertainties clouding the global economy pose as major challenges for the export sector in 2017.
As per the data released by the commerce ministry today, growth in exports last month was lower than 5.72 percent recorded in December.
Exports for April-January of the current fiscal totalled $220.92 billion, up about 1 percent over the year-ago shipments.
Higher imports took the trade deficit to $9.84 billion as against $7.66 billion in January 2016.
Positive trade data set the stage for a further build-up in India's exports, taking advantage of pick-up in the US and Europe, EEPC India Chairman T S Bhasin said.
However, he said, Indian exporters and policymakers need to keep a watch on a possible currency and unfolding trade war.