NEW DELHI: Indian export data released yesterday confirmed a sharp slowdown in foreign trade, adding to the woes of Asia's third-largest economy and piling more pressure on the weak coalition government to take steps to boost economic growth.
Indian exports inched up 3.23 per cent to $24.5 billion in April from a year earlier after falling in March, a far cry from the more than 20pc growth recorded in recent years. India has been hit by falling demand from its traditional export markets in the US and Europe.
The export figures compounded an already gloomy economic picture - GDP data on Thursday showed the economy grew at its slowest pace in nine years in the first three months of 2012. The rupee has also tumbled to record lows this week.
There was fresh evidence of a slowdown in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for nearly 15pc of the economy, yesterday as India's top carmaker Maruti Suzuki said its car sales in May fell 5.9pc, dragged down by high fuel costs and an excise tax increase.
Premier Manmohan Singh, who awoke to newspaper editorials accusing him of weak leadership and demanding that he take action to arrest the economic slide, was due to hold a meeting of his economic cabinet yesterday evening.
Officials downplayed the importance of the meeting, saying it was routine.