The continued slowdown in exports and sudden fast growth in imports have started taking a toll with the trade gap touching a huge $12.7 billion in December 2011. In December 2010, the trade deficit was $8 billion. Exports recorded a 6.7 per cent growth at $25 billion on weak demand from traditional markets such as the U.S. and eurozone.

According to the trade data released by the Commerce Ministry on Wednesday, for the April-December period, exports increased by annualised 25.8 per cent to $217.6 billion, but inward shipments grew faster at 30.3 per cent to $350.9 billion, leaving a trade gap of $133.2 billion.

This has raised serious doubts about the target set by the Government for $300 billion exports by March 31, 2012.

As Europe, one of the largest markets for India's merchandise is battling a financial crisis, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said the country's total outward shipments might not exceed $280 billion in the current fiscal ending March 31, 2012.

FIEO President Rafeeque Ahmed expressed concern over rising trade gap. “Increasing trade deficit is a deep cause of concern.

The rise in exports in earlier months was also due to increasing cost of commodities and metals, including gold,” he added.

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