Rising exports and declining imports in September narrowed the trade deficit in India to a 30-month low of USD 6.76 billion, which may help to Indian rupee to stabilise after excessive volatility in the past few months.
"Imports have shown a significant fall of 18.1 per cent and exports have shown a rise of 11.15 per cent in September.
The trade deficit is the lowest in the last 30 months," Commerce Secretary S R Rao told reporters here.
While exports of textiles, pharmaceuticals and agriculture recorded decent growth, imports came down mainly on account of a decline in inward shipments of gold and oil.
Imports of gold and silver plunged more than 80 per cent to USD 0.8 billion in September from USD 4.6 billion a year earlier. Oil imports declined by about 6 per cent to USD 13.19 billion.
"I am confident that import-containment measures put in place for non-essential imports are playing out extremely well and we need to continue this so that our rupee becomes stronger," Rao added.
The rupee has depreciated by about 15 per cent since April.
The previous low for the trade deficit was USD 3.8 billion in March 2011. The gap was USD 10.9 billion in August.
Exports and imports in September stood at USD 27.68 billion and USD 34.4 billion, respectively.
During April-September this fiscal, exports grew by 5.14 per cent to USD 152.1 billion while imports declined by 1.8 per cent to USD 232.23 billion. The trade deficit for the six-month period was USD 80.1 billion.
The Secretary expressed confidence that the export target of USD 325 billion this fiscal would be achieved.
India's trade deficit has been fuelled by high imports of gold and crude oil, contributing to the current account deficit, which has touched an all-time high of 4.8 per cent of GDP, or USD 88.2 billion, in 2012-13.
During the first half of this fiscal, gold and silver imports rose 8.7 per cent to USD 23.1 billion.
Rao said the import figure for September was the lowest in the past 30 months.
"The government has taken steps to curtail imports of non-essential commodities, particularly precious stones. That is the singular reason for decline in trade deficit," he said.
Oil imports during April-September grew 3.58 per cent to USD 82.87 billion. Non-oil imports declined 4.55 per cent to USD 149.35 billion. In September, they dipped 24.19 per cent to USD 21.24 billion.
Rao said engineering, which contributes the most to the country's exports, has