Fueled by oil, imports from Russia increased 3.5 times

NEW DELHI: Driven by a sharp rise in crude oil oil shipments, India’s imports from Russia increased 3.7 times to $5 billion in April and May 2022, with the value of shipments already accounting for nearly half of imports for the whole of 2021- 22.
Since February, when Russia attacked Ukraine, imports have increased almost three and a half times to $8.6 billion, compared to $2.5 billion for the corresponding period in 2021.
Besides oil, some of the other product categories, such as fertilizers and edible oils, also saw significant increases, according to disaggregated figures available from the Commerce Department. Coking coal and steam coal also saw strong growth.
Project exports and precious and semi-precious stones, mainly diamonds, are among the sectors whose imports have declined.
The surge in imports comes amid shrinking exports, which widened the trade deficit in the first two months of 2022-23 to $4.8 billion from $900 million in the corresponding period. from last year.
In April and May 2022, imports of mineral fuels are estimated to have increased sixfold to $4.2 billion. Within this segment, crude oil shipments were valued at around $3.2 billion, compared to no imports in April and May 2021, according to official figures.
Short of a dip in February, at the start of the war, the import of “mineral oil” from Russia has increased each month thereafter, with a value from February to May 2022 pegged at $5.3 billion – a five-fold jump from the corresponding period last year.
The figures indicate that since March the government has not hesitated to allow imports from Russia despite international pressure, at least in areas where the deficit is large. Government sources said Western imposed sanctions have helped India secure better terms from Russian companies and that it is in the country’s economic interest to seek out what is best for it. In fact, unlike in the early days of the war, when Indian oil refiners bought large quantities off the high seas, the figures indicate that the transactions take place directly because the crude oil is exempt from sanctions.
As a result, fertilizers saw an even bigger increase, with the value of shipments increasing eightfold to $608 million since the war began in February.

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