New Delhi:  India's exports fell by 5.71 percent to USD 28.68 billion in March while imports surged 24.28 percent to USD42.58 billion, leaving a monthly trade deficit of USD13.9 billion, government data showed on Tuesday.

Despite a year-on-year decline in March, India's exports surpassed the USD300 billion target in 2011-12. Total exports grew by 20.94 percent to USD303.71 billion.

The government had set an exports target of USD300 billion for the financial year ended March 31. India managed to exceed the export target helped by product and market diversification strategy. Imports grew by 24.28 percent to USD42.58 billion in March 2012 as compared to USD34.26 billion recorded during the corresponding month of previous year, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Total imports in 2011-12 grew to USD488.64 billion, 32.15 percent higher than the USD369.76 billion recorded in the previous year. Trade deficit widened to a record USD184.92 billion in 2011-12, substantially higher than the government's target of USD150 billion, and USD118.63 billion deficit recorded in the previous fiscal.

Oil imports jumped by 32.45 percent to USD15.83 billion in March, largely due to high energy prices in the international markets. Total oil imports in 2011-12 surged by 46.88 percent to USD155.63 billion. Oil imports bill in 2010-11 was of USD105.96 billion.

This has been the main reason for widening deficit. Engineering exports grew by 16.9 percent to USD58.2 billion. Exports of petroleum and oil products surged by 38.5 percent to USD57.5 billion and gems and jewellery exports increased to USD45.9 billion, which is 13.3 percent higher than the exports registered in the previous year.

Other sectors which showed healthy performance include: drugs and pharmaceuticals, up 21.9 percent at USD13.1 billion; leather, up 22.5 percent at USD4.2 billion; electronics, up 9.2 percent at USD9 billion; cotton yarn and fabric made-up, up 17.4 percent at USD7.2 billion, readymade garments yarns and fabrics, up 18 percent at USD13.7 billion and marine products up 31.4 percent at USD3.4 billion.

Gold and silver imports jumped by 44.4 percent to USD61.5 billion. Imports of coal surged by 80.3 percent to USD17.6 billion and imports of machinery increased by 27.7 percent to USD35.4 billion.

Imports of electronics goods grew by 23 percent to USD32.7 billion; iron and steel imports increased by 15 percent to USD11.9 billion; vegetable oil imports grew by 47.5 percent to USD9.7 billion; and fertilizer imports surged by 59 percent to USD11 billion. However, imports of gems and jewellery fell by 0.6 percent to USD31 billion.