The strategy adopted by the Commerce and Industry Ministry for diversifying exports to new and untapped markets has borne rich dividends as India’s exports recorded an impressive jump of 37.55 per cent to $245.86 billion during 2010-11. The exporters have set an ambitious target of $300 billion for the current fiscal.

The export diversification strategy announced by the Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma when he took over less than two years ago has succeeded in not only finding new markets for Indian products but has also prevented a sharp decline in labour-intensive export sectors.

According to an official statement here, during the period, shipments of Indian merchandise increased by a huge 43.85 per cent in March to $29.1 billion on the back of a smart recovery in the U.S. and key European markets. The strategy to diversify exports to markets like Latin America and Africa paid rich dividends.

Though imports crossed $350 billion, they grew at a lower pace of 21.6 per cent to $350.69 billion in 2010-11 over the previous fiscal. The trade deficit of $104.82 billion for the 2010-11 fiscal was less than earlier forecast of $120-130 billion, mitigating concerns over the country's overall current account deficit.

For March, imports totalled $34.7 billion, up 17.27 per cent year-on-year.

Mr. Sharma is scheduled to unveil a new export strategy on Tuesday aimed at raising India's exports to $450 billion in 2013-14. He could well revise the export target upwards for 2013-14.

“Diversification strategy is paying off and the country is set to reap dividends in the near future. Exports in 2011-12 would cross $300 billion and would touch $500 billion by 2014-15,’’ Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) president Ramu S. Deora said.

The government gives incentives to exporters to explore African and Latin American markets. The country's total merchandise trade has almost touched $600 billion, half of India's gross domestic product of $1.2 trillion. The sectors which registered impressive growth during the fiscal include engineering, with exports rising by 84.7 per cent to $60 billion, followed by petroleum products at $42.5 billion (up 50.5 per cent).

Similarly, gems and jewellery exports grew 15.4 per cent to $33.5 billion, while drugs and pharmaceuticals shipments rose by 15 per cent to $10.3 billion. In March, oil imports increased by 8.2 per cent to $9.43 billion from $8.72 billion in the same period last year. Similarly, non-oil imports grew by 21 per cent during the month under review to $25.3 billion as against $20.9 billion in the corresponding period last year.

During April-March, 2010-11, oil imports went up by 167 per cent to $101.68 billion from $87.13 billion in the corresponding period last year. Non-oil imports during the last fiscal were valued at $249 billion, 23.7 per cent higher than the $201.2 billion figure for 2009-10. The trade deficit during April-March, 2010-11, stood at $104.82 billion, lower than the $109.62 billion deficit during April-March, 2009-10.

More In: Economy | Business