New Delhi: Falling for the 15th month in a row, exports dipped 5.66 percent in February to USD 20.73 billion due to contraction in shipments of petroleum and engineering goods amid tepid global demand.
Trade deficit, however, fell to near five-year low of USD 6.54 billion during February as imports too slowed down.
Imports declined 5.03 percent to USD 27.28 billion last month, leading to a lower trade deficit of USD 6.54 billion compared to that of USD 6.74 billion in February 2015.
The trade deficit - difference between imports and exports - is the lowest since March 2011 when it was USD 5.6 billion.
The Commerce Ministry said the trend of falling exports is in tandem with that in other major world economies.
"The growth in exports have fallen for the US (10.35 percent), European Union (7.62 percent) and China (1.67 percent) for December 2015," the ministry said.
The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said the drop in February was largely due to low export base in February 2015.
"Going by the current trend, we would touch USD 260 billion in 2015-16, a drop of about USD 50 billion in exports as compared to 2014-15," FIEO said in a statement.
Overseas shipments of petroleum products shrank 28.27 percent to USD1.83 billion in February, while that of engineering goods declined by 11.22 percent to 4.56 billion.
For April-February, cumulative exports declined by 16.73 percent to USD 238.41 billion, as against USD 286.3 billion in April-February period of 2014-15.
Imports too dipped by 14.74 per cent to USD 351.8 billion in the 11-month period, leaving a trade deficit of USD 113.38 billion. The trade gap was USD 126.29 billion in April-February 2014-15.
Oil imports last month were valued at USD 4.76 billion - 21.92 percent lower than the same month last year. Non-oil imports too dipped by 0.47 percent to USD 22.51 billion.
During April-February 2015-16, oil imports declined 40.52 percent to USD 77.86 billion and non-oil imports dipped by 2.75 percent to USD 273.94 billion.
Several sectors which recorded negative export growth in February include tea, coffee, rice, cashew, oil meals, oil seeds, marine products and leather goods.
The ministry said that non-petroleum exports in February 2016 are valued at USD 18.90 billion against USD 19.42 billion in February 2015, a reduction of 2.69 percent.
Non-petroleum exports during April-February 2016 are valued at USD 211.31 billion as compared to USD 232.15 billion for the corresponding period in 2015, a reduction of 8.98 percent.
FIEO said that exports will continue to face challenging times in 2016 and improvement is expected from the last quarter of 2016.