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India’s trade deficit hits 5-month low of $13.98 bln in Sept: ministry

NEW DELHI: India’s trade deficit narrowed to $13.98 billion in September from $17.4 billion in August, the trade ministry said on Monday, the lowest figure in five months.

Solid growth in manufacturing exports, which rose 12.54 percent in the first six months in dollar terms year-on-year, cancelled out a rising oil import bill for the world’s third-biggest crude importer that has been suffering from rising oil prices. September imports were up 10.45 percent year-on-year.

“India expects to maintain double-digit growth in exports in the current fiscal year despite fragile global recovery and trade tensions,” Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan told reporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aiming to win a second term in a general election due by May next year, is under pressure to take measures to contain the current account gap, which is driven by a widening trade deficit and putting pressure on the rupee.

India has taken several steps to contain the trade deficit including raising import duty on more than 200 items this year.

Amid a U.S.-China trade dispute, India sees an opportunity to boost its exports such as chemicals, drugs and electrical machinery to China while looking for trade in bilateral currency with Iran and Russia, now facing U.S. sanctions.

India’s imports for the period from April to September were up 16.16 percent year-on-year, while exports rose 12.54 percent, the trade ministry said. The overall trade deficit over the period was $94.32 billion.

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