As Financial Year 2017-18 (FY18) draws to a close, it is worth taking a look at India’s economic performance over what has been quite an interesting period. While the first quarter of the year saw the impact of demonetisation settling down, in the next quarter, introduction of the landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST) brought in some uncertainties as businesses adjusted to the new regime. This did not take long, and from the third quarter onwards, signs of growth returning were evident.
In the coming financial year, what can we expect? As global economic activity continues to strengthen, global growth is forecast to grow by 3.9% during 2018 as per the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) January 2018 World Economic Outlook. The IMF expects India to grow at 7.4% during 2018 which could increase further to 7.8% during 2019 in contrast to 6.7% during 2017.
The Economic Survey for 2017-18 pegs the figure at 7-7.5% for the financial year ahead.
Gross Domestic Product
As per the second advance estimates of national income released by the Central Statistics Office in February 2018, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at constant prices is estimated to grow at 6.6% for 2017-18. The Indian economy achieved an impressive growth rate of 7.2%, a five-quarter high during the third quarter (Oct-Dec) of FY18 as opposed to 6.5% in the second quarter. India also regained its tag of the fastest growing major economy in the third quarter.
Quarterly GDP Figures 2017-18
The strong growth registered in the third quarter was primarily on account of the good performance of the manufacturing and construction sectors. The manufacturing sector registered a growth rate of 8.1% as compared to 6.9% in the previous quarter while the construction sector recorded a growth rate of 6.8% in contrast to 2.8% during the previous quarter.
Gross Value Added
Gross Value Added (GVA) at basic constant prices for 2017-18 is expected to be around 6.4% as against 7.1% in 2016-17.
Sectors such as public administration, defence and other services; trade, hotels, transport, communication and services related to broadcasting; electricity, gas and water supply and other utility services and financial, real estate and professional services are anticipated to register a growth rate of over 7%.
At the sectoral level, agriculture, industry and services are expected to grow at 3%, 4.8% and 8.3% respectively during FY18.
Index of Industrial Production
Industrial growth also recovered with the Index of Industrial production (IIP) registering an impressive growth rate of 7.5% in January 2018 as compared to 2.4% in January 2017. The cumulative growth for the period April-Jan 2017-18 stood at 3.7% in contrast to 5.1% growth registered during April-Jan 2016-17.
The faster pace of growth for January 2018 can be accorded to the growth of the Manufacturing and Electricity sectors. During April-Jan 2018, the Manufacturing sector registered a growth rate of 4.3% while the Electricity sector grew at 5.3% for the same period.
Manufacturing sub-sectors such as pharmaceuticals, electronics and transport equipment registered robust double digit growth rates, while growth in other sectors such as electrical equipment, garments and textiles slackened.
Indian exports exhibited positive growth during February 2018 at 4.48% in dollar terms over February 2017. Cumulative value of exports for the period April-Feb 2017-18 at US$ 273 billion expanded by around 11% over the same period during 2016-17.
Major commodity groups of export that recorded positive growth in February FY18 over the corresponding month of last year included Petroleum Products, Organic & Inorganic Chemicals, Drugs & Pharmaceuticals, Rice and Electronic Goods.
India’s current account deficit (CAD) stood at US$ 13.5 billion accounting for 2% of GDP in the third quarter (Oct-Dec) of 2017-18, higher than US$ 8 billion (1.4% of GDP) during third quarter of 2016-17 and US$ 7.2 billion (1.1% of GDP) in the preceding quarter.
The widening of CAD on a year-on-year basis was the result of the increased trade deficit which stood at US$ 44.1 billion during the period.
The global economy is stabilising with favourable global trade and financial conditions. Domestically, GST promises to deliver positive outcomes as India becomes a single, more competitive market. We can look forward to an upward growth path for India in FY 2018-19.