Exports growth rate has been steadily declining since November 2017 when it touched a high of 30.5 per cent.
New Delhi: Exports grew by 4.5 per cent in February, the lowest expansion in the last four months, to USD 25.8 billion as shipments of engineering, textiles and gems and jewellery declined while trade deficit narrowed to a five-month low of USD 12 billion.
The trade deficit -- the difference between imports and exports -- stood at USD 9.52 billion in February 2017, as per the data released by the commerce ministry.
Exports growth rate has been steadily declining since November 2017 when it touched a high of 30.5 per cent. The trade gap in September 2017 stood at USD 8.98 billion.
"Exports have been on a positive trajectory since August 2016 to February 2018 except for a temporary setback in October 2017," the ministry said in a statement.
The country's merchandise exports are showing continuous positive growth, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia told reporters here on Thursday.
Imports too rose by 10.4 per cent to USD 37.8 billion during the last month.
Cumulative value of exports for April-February 2017-18 period grew by 11 per cent to USD 273.7 billion, while imports grew by 21 per cent to USD 416.87 billion. The trade deficit was USD 143.13 billion.
Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu in a series of tweets said, "Exports data continue with their upsurge! Merchandise exports during February have exhibited positive growth of 4.48 per cent in dollar terms".
Oil imports during February rose by 32 per cent to USD 10.19 billion, while non-oil import increased by 4.11 per cent to USD 27.61 billion.
Oil imports during April-February 2017-18 were valued at USD 98 billion which was 26.92 per cent higher than USD 77.21 billion in the corresponding period last year.
Exports of chemicals and petroleum products grew by 30.41 per cent and 27.44 per cent respectively in February. However, engineering goods shipments dipped by 1.88 per cent.
Gold imports declined by 17 per cent to USD 2.89 billion in February as against USD 3.48 billion in the same month last year.
Prabhu said that services exports also continued to grow with total exports in January valued at USD 16.33 billion registering a growth of 2.07 per cent. Imports during the month were valued at USD 9.847 billion, registering a negative growth of 0.12 per cent
Federation of Indian Export Organisations said that the exports data are not encouraging as engineering, apparels, gems and Jewellery, cotton textile and carpets are showing negative growth .
"Leaving petroleum exports , the overall growth comes to 1 per cent in February. We are worried about gems and jewellery exports as sector is facing huge liquidity issue as banks are tightening their norms," FIEO Director General Ajay Sahai said.