Exports grew by 22.5 per cent at $16.64 billion in August on improved global demand and imports too jumped at a higher pace of 32.2 per cent at $29.7 billion, leaving a worrisome trade gap of $13.06 billion.

However, the renewed demand for Indian goods in western and European markets has given hope to policymakers of achieving the $200-billion export target for the current fiscal.

“Things are going so far according to our plan and we should be able to reach our exports target of $200 billion,'' Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters here on Wednesday.

Expressing optimism, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations said in a statement that with this growth rate, exports would even surpass the $200-billion target and could reach $210 billion.

Industry reported a 13.8 per cent growth in July, beating the market estimates of a single digit growth. However, the rate of heady growth witnessed in the first quarter of the current year had clearly decelerated, Mr. Khullar said.

He said that while there was a marked improvement in exports, shipments were well below the $17.8 billion achieved in August 2008-09. With imports rising on the back of 8.8 per cent economic growth in the first quarter of this fiscal, ballooning trade gap remained the main area of concern for the government.

For April-August, the trade deficit was $56.62 billion with a monthly average of $11.2 billion. The year might end with a trade gap of $135 billion. “The gap will be very large, even compared to $118 billion, that we had two years ago,'' he remarked.

In the first five months of the current fiscal, exports posted a growth of 28.6 per cent at $85.27 billion. Imports during the same period grew by 33.1 per cent at $141.89 billion.

However, segments like readymade garments, handicrafts, handlooms and carpets were still in a bad shape, he said.

In April-August 2010-11, segments that witnessed a good growth rate include petroleum, oil, lubricants (31.7 per cent), fertilizers (79 per cent), vegetable oil (67 per cent), coal (43 per cent), iron and steel (64 per cent), gold (27.7 per cent) and machinery (20 per cent).

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