New Delhi:  India's exports grew by 36.3 per cent on an annual basis to USD 24.8 billion in September, 2011, demonstrating impressive year-on-year expansion despite a slowdown in the US and Europe.

In September, 2010, the country's outbound shipments were valued at USD 18.2 billion.

India's imports also registered growth in September, rising by 17.2 per cent in comparison to the corresponding period of the previous year to USD 34.5 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 9.7 billion, the Commerce Ministry on Tuesday said.

Though down from the 44.2 per cent growth rate recorded in August, the rise in exports in September can be considered robust, given the economic woes in the US and the debt crisis in Europe. The US and Europe are the two biggest markets for Indian merchandise, accounting for about 30 per cent of total shipments.

Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar has said that total exports in the current fiscal may reach USD 290-300 billion.

During the April-September period, India's exports grew by 52 per cent to USD 160 billion from USD 105.2 billion in the same period last year.

During the first half of this fiscal, the sectors that registered healthy growth include engineering (103 per cent), petroleum and oil lubricants (PoL) (53 per cent), gems and jewellery (23 per cent), ready-made garments (32 per cent), marine products (48 per cent) and drugs (33 per cent).

Apex exporters body Fieo said the country's shipments to new markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia are on the rise, which has helped India maintain the export growth momentum.

"We are getting good orders from the new markets," Kush Suri, a leading dry fruit exporter, said.

During April-September, 2011, India's imports expanded by 32.4 per cent to USD 233.5 billion. The trade gap stood at USD 73.4 billion for the half-year.

Oil imports grew by 14.62 per cent to USD 9.2 billion in September, while non-oil imports rose by 18.17 per cent to USD 25.3 billion during the month.

 During the first half of this fiscal, oil imports grew by 42.39 per cent to USD 70.34 billion from USD 49.4 billion in the year-ago period.

Non-oil imports were valued at USD 163.1 billion, an increase of 28.52 per cent from USD 126.95 billion in April-September, 2010-11.

(Agencies)