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India considers scrapping early monthly release of trade data

Nov 8, 2022

India’s trade ministry is considering scrapping its policy of releasing trade data twice a month because of wide variations in the final numbers, people familiar with the matter said.

The government plans to instead release monthly exports and imports data once a month, the people said. The move is expected to provide a clearer picture of the nation’s trade and comes amid a delay in collecting data from special economic zones and ports, the people said.

A trade ministry spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. October’s trade data is expected only once this month, according to the people with knowledge of the matter.

In late 2020, India’s government started providing data twice a month. Preliminary data was released in the first week followed by revised figures in the middle of the month. The data was often used by economists and trade experts to discern the country’s external finances.

Lately, the two numbers have widely diverged, prompting India’s trade ministry to revisit its policy. Preliminary trade data for August, which was released in September, showed that merchandise exports fell 1.13% to $33.0 billion, but the final data depicted growth of 1.62% to $33.92 billion. Data for July followed a similar trend.

Slowing global trade, due in part to the war in Ukraine and rapid monetary tightening by global central banks, has also hurt India’s exports, leading to a record trade gap. The deficit between exports and imports widened in July to a high of $30 billion, though it narrowed in subsequent months amid easing global commodity prices and import curbs.

[The Economic Times]

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