New Delhi: India's exports may not be able to reach even the last year's level of about USD 306 billion, and the trade deficit is likely to widen between USD 193 billion and USD 196 billion in the current fiscal, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Friday.
"We are looking at the number (exports) and what is very disturbing and challenging is that we have not even reached where we were before (last fiscal's) USD 306 billion," Sharma said at the Board of Trade meeting here.
The high-level Board of Trade (BOT) meeting was chaired by Sharma and had representation from the ministries of Finance, External Affairs and Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises.
The Board of Trade meeting suggests steps to prepare the way for the annual supplement to the Foreign Trade Policy (2009-2014), expected to be unveiled in April.
Given the high level of imports and lesser exports, the trade deficit will become challenging because it directly affects the current account deficit, which in turn will put pressure on rupee, Sharma said.
He added a weak rupee would also not help Indian exporters, as importers who will also feel the pinch will ask for more discount.
"The trade deficit was USD 182 billion in the first 11 months of this fiscal. Whether it will be USD 12 billion or USD 15 billion more (in March)... Trade deficit will definitely be between USD 193 billion and USD 196 billion in the current fiscal.
"This is not a small number and that is where the crisis is. Therefore every institution must ensure faster movement," Sharma said.
During the April-February period, exports declined by 4 percent to USD 265.95 billion. Imports during the 11-month period grew by a mere 0.25 percent to USD 448 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 182.1 billion.