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Mobile phones, tobacco, processed food products, electronics, gold jewellery and leather goods have driven India's merchandise exports in the first six months of the fiscal at a time when global trade volume growth is slowing.

India's outbound shipments of telecom instruments rose 88.24% on-year in April-September FY23 at $5.03 billion while those of gold and other precious metallic jewellery grew 22.24% at $6.5 billion, buoyed by the consumer sentiment across the US, Middle East and Hong Kong. Thailand, Switzerland and Singapore have emerged as new growth markets for the country's gem and jewellery exports. Petroleum products exports grew a whopping 84.02% to $52.6 billion. Processed fruits and vegetables exports increased 42.42% during the period and those of electronic instruments were up 24% to almost $2 billion.

World trade growth is expected to slow down to 1% in 2023, down sharply from the previous estimate of 3.4%, due to global uncertainties, the World Trade Organization said in its October forecast. India's merchandise exports in H1 of FY23 rose 16.96% on-year to $231.88 billion against $198.25 billion in the year-ago period.

"We have been working with all the stakeholders such as farmers, exporters, and processors to ensure that quality agricultural and processed food products are exported from the country," said M Angamuthu, chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority.

The country's overall export of agricultural and processed food products has risen 25% to $13.7 billion in April-September FY23 compared to the same period last fiscal.

However, exports of iron and steel, organic chemicals, plastic raw materials, cotton fabrics and made-ups have been laggards, slowing the overall merchandise exports growth to single digits in the second quarter of FY23. Their exports contracted 36.86%, 2.43%, 16.67% and 7.49%, respectively in the first half of 2022-23.

Slowdown in Europe and China also contributed to the fall in the exports of engineering goods-of which iron and steel are key components-which account for nearly one-fourth of the total merchandise exports from the country.

"Engineering exports have been experiencing a downward trend. In September, they recorded a 10.85% fall whereas in cumulative terms, that is April-September 2022, they exhibited a meagre rise of only 1.15%," said EEPC India chairman Arun Kumar Garodia, attributing the decline to an above 60% fall in iron and steel exports in September and a 15% export duty on iron and steel products applicable since May 21, 2022.

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal is likely to meet export promotion councils and industry representatives on Monday to discuss issues related to India's trade.