India's merchandise trade deficit widened from $10.44 billion in March to $13.25 billion in April. This is the biggest deficit since late 2014 and is also much wider than the deficit of $4.85 billion recorded in April 2016. The increase in the deficit in April reflects both weaker export growth and a larger increase in imports.
Exports grew 19.77 percent on the year in April, down from an increase of 27.6 percent in March. Solid growth in exports to Japan (13.3 percent) and the United States (4.74 percent) were offset by flat exports to the the European Union and a 1.56 percent fall in exports to China.
Meanwhile, year-on-year growth in imports accelerated from 45.3 percent in March to 49.07 percent in April. Headline growth in imports reflected both non-oil imports, up 54.50 percent on the year, and oil imports, up 30.12 percent.
Seperate data also released today showed that the the merchandise trade deficit in March was partly offset by a surplus in India's services trade amounting to $5.91 billion. Services exports grew 8.57 percent in the year in March while services imports were up 14.26 percent.
The merchandise trade balance measures the difference between imports and exports of goods. The level of the international trade balance, as well as changes in exports and imports, indicate trends in foreign trade and can offer a guide to an economy's competitiveness. Alongside the merchandise data, exports and imports of services are also provided. The statistics, which are not seasonally adjusted, are reported in both local currency and U.S. dollars, the latter being the main market focus.
Changes in the level of imports and exports, along with the difference between the two (the trade balance) are a valuable gauge of economic trends here and abroad. While these trade figures can directly impact all financial markets, they primarily affect currency values in foreign exchange markets.
Imports indicate demand for foreign goods and services in India. Exports show the demand for Indian goods in countries overseas. The rupee can be particularly sensitive to changes in the trade deficit run by India, since the trade imbalance creates greater demand for foreign currencies. The bond market is also sensitive to the risk of importing inflation. Data are reported in US dollars and Indian rupees.