India’s merchandise exports fell 17% to $29.78 billion (approximately Rs 2.4 lakh crore) in October from $35.45 billion (Rs 2.8 lakh crore) in the previous month, while imports declined to $56.69 billion (Rs 4.5 lakh crore) from $61.16 billion (Rs 4.9 lakh crore) in the same period, the data by the commerce ministry showed on Tuesday.

The merchandise trade deficit in October increased to $26.91 billion (Rs 2.1 lakh crore) from $25.71 (Rs 2 lakh crore) billion in the previous month, reported Reuters.

A trade deficit happens when the amount by which the cost of a country’s imports exceeds the value of its export.

“India’s overall exports [merchandise and service] in October 2022 are estimated to be $58.36 billion [Rs 4.6 lakh crore], exhibiting a positive growth of 4.03% over the same period last year,” the Centre said on Tuesday. “Overall imports in October 2022 are estimated to be $73 billion (Rs 5.8 lakh crore), exhibiting a positive growth of 11.82% over the same period last year.”

Export sectors that recorded negative growth included gems and jewellery (21.56%), engineering (21.26%), petroleum products (11.28%), ready-made garments of all textiles (21.16%), chemicals (16.44%), pharma (9.24%), marine products (10.83%), and leather (5.84%).

Sectors that recorded positive growth in October include oil seeds, oil meals, electronic goods, tobacco, tea, and rice. Oil imports rose by 29.1% to $15.8 billion (Rs 1.2 lakh crore), while gold imports declined by 27.47% to $3.7 billion (Rs 2.9 lakh crore) last month.

“The October trade data was impacted by the Diwali and Dussehra festive season as factory workers tend to go on leave,” Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal told The Hindu. “This is a seasonal blip… We will assess whether this is a trend that will persist after looking at how November trade numbers turn out.”

Barthwal also said that the World Trade Organisation has reduced global trade growth forecasts and the International Monetary Fund has downgraded Gross Domestic Product growth projections.