(Eds: Updates with exporters comment after para 12)
New Delhi, Sep 14 (PTI) The country's exports rose at the fastest pace in three months to reach USD 27.84 billion in August on account of healthy growth in petroleum products, engineering, pharma, and gems and jewellery shipments.
Imports too grew by 25.41 per cent in August to USD 45.24 billion due to costlier crude oil shipments.
In August, the growth rate in overseas shipments touched a three-month high of 19.21 per cent. Earlier in May, exports had recorded a growth of 20.18 per cent.
Trade deficit during the month narrowed to USD 17.4 billion as against USD 12.72 billion in the same month last year, according to the data released by the commerce ministry Friday. In July, the trade deficit soared to a near five-year high of USD 18.02 billion.
Exports of petroleum products, engineering, pharma and gems and jewellery in August rose by 43.25 per cent, 31.81 per cent, 28.52 per cent and 34.76 per cent respectively.
Oil imports in August grew by 51.62 per cent to USD 11.83 billion and non-oil imports were up by 18.17 per cent to USD 33.41 billion.
Gold imports in August jumped by 92.62 per cent to USD 3.64 billion. The continuous fall in the value of domestic currency appears to be helping exports.
During April-August this fiscal, the exports recorded a growth of 16.13 per cent to USD 136.09 billion, while imports during the first five months of this fiscal grew by 17.34 per cent to USD 216.43 billion.
Trade deficit during the period widened to USD 80.35 billion as against USD 67.27 billion in the same period last year.
Oil imports during April-August this fiscal grew by 53.35 per cent to USD 58.81 billion and non-oil imports were up by 7.84 per cent to USD 157.62 billion.
The high trade deficit is one of the factors that dragged the rupee to below 70 levels.
The rupee touched an all-time low of 72.91 on September 12. Today it closed at 71.84 against the dollar.
Commenting on the figures, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said that some of the small and micro sectors of exports are still reeling under pressure because of the liquidity crunch as banks and financial institutions have continuously been tightening their lending norms and ITC refund for exports still poses a challenge.
It also raised concerns on the high trade deficit, primarily on account of swelling of crude imports bill due to rising global oil prices and higher gold import, which has further added pressure on Indian Rupee.
"Though the Rupee depreciation has given some edge to Indian exports as rupee is one of the worst performing currency in Asia in the current fiscal, yet its impact has varied from one sector to the other," it said in a statement. PTI RR MR