Contracting for the ninth month in a row, India's exports plunged by 20.66 per cent in August to USD 21.26 billion, widening the trade deficit.
The significant slump in country's exports is attributed to global slowdown and declining commodity prices worldwide.
In August 2014, the merchandise exports had amounted to USD 26.8 billion. The last time exports registered a positive growth was in November 2014, when shipments had expanded at a rate of 7.27 per cent.
Imports too declined by 9.95 per cent to USD 33.74 billion in August this year due to high gold imports, widening the trade deficit to USD 12.47 billion, according to the data released by the Commerce Ministry.
However, the trade deficit has narrowed in August as compared with July this year, when the figure stood at USD 12.81 billion.
In August last year, the deficit was USD 10.66 billion.
Gold imports rose by 140 per cent to USD 4.95 billion in the month under review from USD 2.06 billion in August last year.
The main exporting sectors which reported decline in exports include petroleum products (fall of 47.88 per cent), engineering (29 per cent), leather and leather goods (12.78 per cent), marine products (20.83 per cent) and carpet (22 per cent).
Exporters expressed concerns over the continuous decline.
The government should immediately announce steps such as extension of interest subvention scheme to control this decline, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President S C Ralhan said.
Also, oil imports dropped 42.59 per cent in August to USD 7.35 billion. Oil imports account for about 31 per cent of the total imports. Petroleum product exports account for 18 per cent of the country's total exports.
Non-oil imports, however, grew by 7.01 per cent to USD 26.38 billion.
During the first five months (April-August) of the current financial year, exports are down 16.17 per cent at USD 111.09 billion. Imports too have declined 11.61 per cent to USD 168.6 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of USD 57.5 billion.