India’s merchandise exports grew 4.32 per cent to $22.11 billion in January on the back of raw material shipments, including petroleum products and iron ore. This was the fifth straight month of expansion of exports — albeit at a slower pace than the previous month — which indicates demonetisation’s impact on India’s external trade has been marginal. Despite a slippage in gold imports, attributable to the note swap, imports rose a robust 10.7 per cent to $31.96 billion, precipitating a trade deficit of $9.84 billion, higher than $7.66 billion in the corresponding month a year ago. The rate of growth of non-oil-non-gold imports was 4.2 per cent in January 2017, against 4.4 per cent in the previous month, aided by 47 per cent increase in coal imports. Gold imports in January stood at $2.04 billion, down 29.94 per cent from the year-ago month. Iron and steel imports also fell by 1.08 per cent in January, aided by government policies to restrict cheap imports. Non-petroleum exports in January were valued at $19.42 billion against $19.11 billion year-on-year, an increase of just 1.6 per cent. Exports totalled $220.92 billion for the April-January period of the current fiscal, up about 1 per cent over the year-ago shipments. Responding to the trade data for the month of January 2017, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) president S C Ralhan said while continuous positive growth in exports for the last five months is encouraging, the slowdown in global trade was affecting the exports equally. “Going by the current trend, we are expected to reach around $270 billion (exports) this fiscal,” Ralhan said.