New Delhi: Maintaining the growth momentum of the previous fiscal, India’s exports rose by 34.4 percent on an annual basis to USD 23.8 billion in the first month of the 2011-12 fiscal.

Imports grew at a lesser pace of 14.1 per cent to USD 32.8 billion in April this year, according to the provisional data released by the Commerce Ministry on Wednesday.

Trade deficit for the opening month of the current fiscal narrowed to USD 8.9 billion from USD 11 billion a year ago.

According to data released earlier by Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar, the April export growth was led by engineering consignments which went up by 109 per cent to USD 6.8 billion.

Export of petroleum products grew by 53 per cent to USD 4.3 billion and gems and jewellery by 39 per cent to USD 2.9 billion. Readymade garments clocked in an expansion of 12.7
per cent with consignments worth USD 1.1 billion.

The rise in export value is also attributed to increase in the cost of production, thanks to inflationary pressures.

"Once the prices of the raw material stabilise, it may have an impact on India's exports growth," Director General of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) Ajay
Sahai said.

He pegged the export growth for the entire fiscal at about 11 per cent with the total shipments going up to USD 275 billion from USD 246 billion in 2010-11.

Uncertainty in Europe and not-too encouraging data about the US economy remain areas of concern, Khullar had said.

"The US and European markets are still weak...there is demand in the new markets, but it will take time and we need government support," Chairman of the CII National Committee on Exports Sanjay Budhia said.

CRISIL Chief Economist D K Joshi said the exports growth momentum of 30-35 per cent cannot be sustained and there would be moderation in the months to come.

Though the April growth is lower than 44 per cent growth in March, it was because the consignments generally peak in the last quarter of the financial year.

"Exports in the next few months will grow in a decent number, though they may not be as high as (seen in the past few months)," Standard Chartered Research Head Samiran Chakraborty said.