India's merchandise exports rose 21.3 per cent to $18 billion in October over the year-ago period, boosting hopes that the country may be able to reach the $200 billion target fixed for the current financial year.
Imports during the period grew 6.8 per cent to $27.68 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $9.72 billion, according to a Commerce Ministry data released on Wednesday.
The rate of expansion in exports has outpaced imports growth for the first time in last 3-4 years. Exports in October last year were valued at $14.8 billion while imports were worth $25.9 billion.
The growth in overseas shipments is attributed to improved demand in the US and European Union, besides increase in exports to African and Latin American countries.
The country is likely to end the year with import-export gap of about $125 billion, said a Commerce Ministry official recently.
For the first seven months (April-October) too, exports rose at a faster pace of 26.8 per cent at $121.3 billion, against 26 per cent growth in imports at $194.1 billion.
All the big ticket items like engineering goods, gems and jewellery, chemicals and petroleum products have registered positive growth in the first seven months of the financial year, the official said.
However, exports of tea, tobacco, cashew and handicraft declined.
In imports, oil imports and non-oil imports during the month under review grew 0.3 per cent to $8.41 billion and 9.9 per cent to $19.27 billion, respectively, according to the data.
During April-August 2010-11, oil and non-oil imports grew 24.6 per cent to $57.12 billion and 26.7 per cent to $137.04 billion, respectively.
Continuous upward trend witnessed in exports has made the government officials optimistic of meeting the $200 billion export target this financial target. The target was announced in the Foreign Trade Policy in August last year.