India's Dec trade deficit narrows to $21.4b, exports fall 1.9%

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India's trade deficit narrowed to US$17.7 billion (S$21.4 billion) in December from US$19.3 billion in November, even after exports fell for the eighth straight month, a trade ministry official said on Friday.

Exports totalled U$24.88 billion in December, down 1.9 per cent on year. Imports, however, were up 6.3 per cent at US$42.5 billion.

For the first three quarters of the fiscal year ending in March, exports totalled US$214.1 billion, down 5.5 per cent from a year ago.

The weakness of the export sector, which makes up one-fifth of the Indian economy, has swollen a current account deficit that hit an all time high of 5.4 per cent of gross domestic product in the July-September quarter and has added to pressure on the rupee.