New Delhi: Reflecting some recovery in the global markets, India's exports grew for the third month in a row, rising by 6.97 percent in March though on annual basis it declined 1.76 percent to USD 300.6 billion in 2012-13.
Exports in March stood at USD 30.8 billion compared to USD 28.8 billion in the same month of previous year.
Imports dipped by 2.87 percent to USD 41.16 billion in March, leaving a trade deficit of USD 10.31 billion from USD 13.5 billion in March last year. In January, it had widened to USD 20 billion, the second highest figure ever in a month.
However, for 2012-13, the trade deficit grew to USD 190.91 billion as against USD 183.3 billion in the previous fiscal.
With a view to boost exports, the government announced several measures in foreign trade policy (FTP) including extension of the popular EPCG scheme to all sectors and sops for Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
Exports had entered positive zone after a gap of eight months in January when it recorded a growth of 0.82 percent.
Commerce Secretary S R Rao said exports are gradually picking up and hoped the current trend will continue.
"Export performance has started picking up. For March, the export performance has picked by a slightly robust figure as compared to the previous two months. We do expect this trend to continue and we would like to consolidate," Rao said.
He said if the current trend continued, India's exports is expected to grow by about 10 percent this fiscal.
"...I should assume a minimum of 10 percent (growth) if trend continues...," he added.
On trade deficit, Rao said that it has come down slightly "which is a good news. Given a very weak performance for major part of the year, I think in the last 3-4 months, we really covered a good deal of ground which is not sufficient but certainly there is progress in exports".
During 2012-13, imports grew by 0.44 percent to USD 491.48 billion.
Oil imports in March 2013 declined by 16.56 percent to USD 13.32 billion. During the previous fiscal, the imports however grew by 9.22 percent to USD 169.25 billion from USD 154.96 billion in 2011-12.
Non-oil imports in March increased by 5.41 percent to USD 27.83 billion but during 2012-13, it dipped 3.62 percent to USD 322.23 billion.
While announcing sops for exporters, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said in 2012-13, India's exports to Asia, Africa and Latin America touched USD 195.27 billion, accounting for 65 percent of the total export basket.
"This is indeed a development with significant import as South-South trade is assuming a new dynamics.
"Apart from this, value added exports have got a centrality in our export basket as engineering exports accounted for USD 57 billion, textiles accounted for USD 26 billion and pharmaceuticals at USD 15 billion", he added.