Representational file image.
| Photo Credit: S. R. Raghunathan
India’s goods exports for 2022-23 scaled up significantly from earlier estimates to almost $451 billion, indicating a 6.9% year-on-year growth, with exports for March upgraded sharply to a nine-month high of $41.9 billion, as per Commerce Ministry data.
Initial estimates for the March had pegged exports at $38.38 billion, marking a sharp 13.9% decline, but revised numbers signal only a 6% contraction. The $41.9 billion exports made March only the second month of 2022-23 to cross the $40 billion mark after $42.3 billion in outbound shipments last June.
The Ministry, which will be releasing the initial estimates for April’s merchandise trade on Monday, also revised March’s import bill to over $60 billion, the highest in 2023, raising its initial estimate of imports during the month by $1.9 billion.
However, the overall import bill for 2022-23 remained virtually unchanged at $714.04 billion, a 16.5% rise from 2021-22, compared to $714.24 billion reported initially. The rise in March’s import figure was largely offset by a $1.7 billion correction in November 2022’s import tally that was initially pegged at $58.2 billion, then revised upwards by half a billion dollars and finally pared to $56.95 billion.
The latest revisions to official trade numbers cap off a year marked by what economists termed as significantly higher than usual variations between initial estimates and final numbers.
Total exports were initially pegged at $447.46 billion as per data released on April 15, then revised to $444.2 billion as per a Ministry statement on May 1. That figure has now been raised to $450.95 billion. Similarly, the import bill as per the May 1 statement was pegged at $711.85 billion, from the initial estimate of $714.24 billion.
Overall, export numbers were revised by over $25 billion from their initial estimates through 2022-23, with four months seeing a $3 billion-plus upward revision. The pace of these revisions has accelerated since November 2022, with exports etched up by an average $3.2 billion each month. The revision of $3.52 billion in March exports was the second highest in the year.
Import figure revisions have only been slightly milder, averaging over $1.5 billion a month through 2022-23. Over $2 billion revisions from initial estimates were reported in four months, with December 2022 recording the highest upward revision of almost $3 billion.
While experts have flagged petroleum shipments as the main driver for the extraordinarily high revisions of recent export data, the revision in import numbers needs further scrutiny.