Amid a crackdown on gold imports, the country's exports of gems and jewellery suffered a 5.7% drop year-on-year during April-November, thanks to lower outbound shipments of gold jewellery and coins.
India, the world's top bullion consumer, barely produces gold and depends on imports to cater to both domestic and export demand.
It purchases gold from overseas and exports value-added products such as jewellery, medallions and coins.
According to the provisional data by the commerce ministry, gems and jewellery exports in the April-November period dropped to $26.99 billion, compared with $28.61 billion a year before. However, gold imports during this period plunged to $21.42 billion from $32.33 billion.
Separately, data by the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council showed gold jewellery exports crashed by almost 53% in the first eight months of this fiscal to $4.46 billion, while those of gold medallions and coins tumbled by 41.4% to $2.03 billion.
Bullion industry executives have attributed the plunge in exports to a series of steps by authorities to reduce gold imports — and resultant confusion about some of the measures — to trim the current account deficit.
Authorities intensified a crackdown on gold imports, especially since June, after imports in the first two months of this fiscal exceeded a record 300 tonne, worsening fears of a runaway current account deficit.
The RBI mandated in July that one-fifth of the gold imported must be kept aside for re-exports, which led to confusion on whether the required quantity to be reserved for outbound shipments shouldn't be more than 20%.
In September, the government clarified that the quantity to be reserved for re-exports must be at least 20%, paving the way for more gold imports as well as exports, said industry executive.
The country's gold imports dropped 79% in the quarter through September to $3.5 billion from the previous quarter following the crackdown,
Even imports during the October and November period when festive and marriage season demand usually drives purchases from overseas also crashed to just $2.2 billion, compared with $12.1 billion a year before.