New Delhi: Exports fell for the 18th month in a row in May, though marginally by 0.79 percent to USD 22.17 billion as several non-oil sectors such as engineering and gems and jewellery saw a rise in outward shipments.
Imports, too, dipped by 13.16 percent to USD 28.44 billion in the month under review. The trade deficit narrowed to USD 6.27 billion in May, from USD 10.4 billion in the same month last year.
While releasing the trade data today, the Commerce Ministry said, "The decline in exports for India has slowed considerably".
Exporters body FIEO said decline in exports has largely been arrested and non-oil exports have turned positive after a long gap.
"Exports are all set to take off from here onwards and we can look for double digit growth from October onwards which may pave the way for reaching USD 300 billion in the current fiscal," it said.
CII, however, said that the uncertainty in the global economy will continue to persist and there is no sign of leap frog growth in global demand.
"In this challenging situation, India can no longer afford to delay domestic reforms aimed at improving export competitiveness, which would have direct influence on its exports performance," it said in a statement.
Exports have been falling since December 2014 due to weak global demand and slide in oil prices. However, since December last year, the pace of contraction is slowing down.
During April-May 2016, exports contracted by 3.74 percent to USD 42.73 billion. Imports during the period fell by 18.15 percent to USD 53.85 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 11.11 billion.
Oil imports in May dipped by 30.45 percent to USD 5.93 billion. Non-oil imports too fell by 7.06 percent to USD 22.5 billion.
In May, overseas shipments of petroleum products shrank 15.53 percent to USD 2 billion.
On the other hand, exports of engineering goods entered positive zone and recorded a growth of 2.2 percent. Gems and jewellery exports too grew by 24.34 percent to USD 3.71 billion.
Other sectors which recorded negative growth include carpet, textiles, oil meals, tea and coffee. Sectors which registered positive growth are handicrafts, chemicals and electronic goods.