New Delhi: India's gold imports fell 40.31 per cent to USD 2.49 billion in March, which is expected to keep a lid on the current account deficit (CAD).
Total imports of the precious metal in the corresponding period of 2016-17 stood at USD 4.17 billion, according to Commerce Ministry data. According to industry experts, softening prices of the precious metal in the global markets could be the reason for the decline in the value of imports.
The imports had recorded negative growth in January and February as well. India is one of the largest gold importers in the world and the shipments mainly take care of the jewellery industry demand. Silver imports, however, grew by 31 per cent to USD 267.33 million in March.
At present, gold import attracts 10 per cent duty. The gems and jewellery industry along with the Commerce Ministry have time and again urged the Finance Ministry to consider reducing the import duty. In volume terms, India imported 500 tonnes of gold in 2016-17.
The CAD more than doubled to 1.9 per cent of GDP in the April-December 2017 period from 0.7 per cent in the corresponding period of 2016-17 due to wider trade deficit.
The CAD, which shows the difference between foreign exchange earned and spent, rose to 2 per cent of the GDP at USD 13.5 billion in the December quarter.