Exports to grow by 6.3 pc to $ 326b this fiscal

India's exports are expected to grow by 6.3 per cent to $326 billion during

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the current fiscal, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said.

"Though 2013-14 began on a pessimistic note, I am happy to inform the House that the year will end with estimated merchandise exports of $326 billion, indicating a growth rate of 6.3 per cent," he said in the interim Budget speech in Parliament.

India's merchandise exports was at $300.4 billion in 2012-13, a decline of 1.8 per cent over the previous year.

"However, imports are down and this does not augur well for either manufacturing or domestic trade. Our aim must be robust growth in both exports and imports, with trade in balance over a period of time," Chidambaram added.

Further, he said exports have recovered sharply and the recovery must be seen in the context of growth of global trade declining from 6.1 per cent in 2011 to 2.7 per cent in 2013.

The country's apex exporters body Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said that support extended by the minister for research and development activities and reduction of duties on capital goods will help in increasing competitiveness of Indian products in the global market.

"The Budget is not very exciting for exporters but the support for R&D activities and reduction of duties on capital goods will help in boosting competitiveness of our products," FIEO President Rafeeq Ahmed said.

However, he expressed doubt over touching the overall exports figure of $326 billion for the current fiscal.

"If the government will revise the export figures by about $8-10 billion then $326 billion is not difficult, otherwise it will be difficult, because to touch that figure we need about $30-35 billion each in the remaining two months," Ahmed said.

During April-January this fiscal, exports grew by 5.71 per cent to $257 billion, while imports dipped by 7.81 per cent to $377 billion. The trade deficit was about $119 billion.

India's exports increased 3.79 per cent to $26.75 billion in January, helping the trade deficit to narrow to $9.92 billion.

On manufacturing, Chidambaram said that it is the "Achilles heel" of the Indian economy.

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