New Delhi: Driven by a 50 per cent jump in February, India’s exports crossed the USD 200 billion mark and are likely to touch USD 235 billion in the current fiscal. The rise in exports comes on the back of rising demand from the US and other markets

"We have crossed the USD 200 billion mark. The current forecast for the (fiscal) year is USD 230-235 billion," Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters on Thursday.

Exports jumped by 49.8 per cent year-on-year in outward shipments during February to USD 23.6 billion, taking the April-January 2010-11 figure to USD 208.2 billion. It is an increase of 31.4 per cent over the year-ago period and past the yearly target of USD 200 billion.

Imports also went up by 21.2 per cent in February to USD 31.7 billion, leaving a trade deficit to USD 8.1 billion.

During the first 11 months of the financial year, imports grew by 18 per cent to USD 305.3 billion vis-a-vis the same period last year. The trade gap for the period stood at USD 97.1 billion.

"In imports, we will end up (the fiscal) closer to USD 350 billion... On the whole, we are looking at balance of trade at USD 105-115 billion," he said, adding, "(It depends) on how well or bad we do on the export and import fronts."

However, the Secretary said that the import figures will change as they will be revised once definitive figures are formulated.

He also said that export numbers for January and February from special economic zones are also coming in, so "by the end of March when I will give you the full year numbers, you should not be surprised if there is a bump up in the exports numbers."

Engg, petroleum good performers

The sectors which performed well during the 11 months of fiscal include engineering (81 per cent), petroleum and oil lubricants (34 per cent), cotton yarn and made-ups (43 per cent), plastics (41 per cent), chemicals (22 per cent), electronics (40 per cent), carpets (37 per cent) and marine (20 per cent).

Khullar said that engineering exports are doing "remarkably" well and are expected to touch USD 55-56 billion by the end of this year. Engineering goods constitute about 25 per cent of India's total exports.

"The growth which we are seeing is basically from the markets of Asia, Latin America and Africa. In these new markets demand for our products are increasing," Ramu Deora, the President of India's apex exporters body FIEO, said.

However, a few sectors where exports are still in the red include iron ore, fruits and vegetables and cotton yarn, on account of restrictions imposed on overseas shipments. In addition, tea exports exhibited a decline during the year.

On imports, he said during April-February 2010-11, imports of pearls and precious stones went up by 55 per cent, vegetable oil by 18 per cent, machinery by 19 per cent, chemicals (25 per cent), coal (12 per cent), ores and scraps (31 per cent), petroleum and oil lubricants (12.5 per cent) and fertilizers (6 per cent).

CAD to be 2.5 pc of GDP

Khullar said that due to increasing imports; India's Current Account Deficit (CAD) would be around 2.5 to 2.8 per cent of the GDP by 2010-11 end.

India's CAD, representing the net flow of income out of the country barring capital movements, surged by 72 per cent to USD 15.8 billion in the July-September quarter vis-à-vis the same period last year.

On the revision of import figures, Khullar said because of some technical glitches, the complete data was not captured.

"It is a technical problem...when you are trying to improve systems of data collection, problems will arise," he said, adding "I expect a larger variation on import scenario."

Sugar exports

When asked about allowing sugar exports, he said the decision will be taken by Empowered Group of Ministers.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had also favoured for allowing exports of wheat, rice and sugar looking at bumper production and comfortable stock position.

Sugar output is pegged at 24.5 million tonnes in 2010-11 (October-September), against 19 million tonnes in the previous year. The annual demand is seen at 22 million tonnes and India has an opening stock of 5 million tonnes.