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Rising gold imports no cause for alarm: Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher

Gold imports in March nearly doubled to USD 4.98 billion, while in January and February, it rose to USD 1.55 billion and USD 1.98 billion, respectively.
Gold imports in March nearly doubled to USD 4.98 billion, while in January and February, it rose to USD 1.55 billion and USD 1.98 billion, respectively.
NEW DELHI: The government today said rising amount of gold imports is no cause for an "alarm" and action will be taken at an appropriate time.

Gold imports in March nearly doubled to USD 4.98 billion, while in January and February, it rose to USD 1.55 billion and USD 1.98 billion, respectively.

"The (gold) imports have surged in February and March. We will keep a watch. I think that we do not have to be alarmist and see whatever action is required at an appropriate time," Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told reporters here.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the 49th convocation of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade.

Relaxation in gold import norms by the Reserve Bank led to a spurt in imports of the precious metal in the recent months.

On November 28 last year, the RBI had scrapped the controversial 80:20 scheme.

Under the programme, which was put in place in August 2013 to put a tight leash on gold inflows, at least 20 per cent of the imported gold had to be exported before bringing in new lots.

Increasing gold import was one of the reasons for the widening trade deficit in March, which stood at USD 11.79 billion, a 4-month high.

India is the largest importer of gold, which mainly caters to the demand of the jewellery industry.

On declining merchandise exports, Kher said it is "indeed a cause of concern".

"But we are aware of the reasons. We are aware that globally everything is slowing down and therefore opportunities for Indian exports to that extend are limited.

"We need to find new areas, new markets, produce better quality products and more value added product. That is the way we can diversify," he added.

India's exports dipped deeper into the negative zone, recording a decline of 21 per cent, in March.

This was the biggest fall in last six years, pulling down the total shipment for 2014-15 to USD 310.5 billion, missing the target of USD 340 billion.

Exports have been on a downward spiral since December last year. The previous biggest decline in export was in July 2009, when it dipped by 28.4 per cent.

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