Contracting for the 10th month in a row, India’s merchandise exports dipped 24.33 per cent in September to $21.84 billion, mainly due to steep fall in shipments of petroleum products, iron ore, and engineering goods amid tepid global demand.The imports too shrank 25.42 per cent to $32.32 billion in September on yearly basis, thus narrowing the trade gap to $10.47 billion from $14.47 billion recorded in the same month of 2014. Exports in September 2014 were valued at $28.86 billion. The cumulative exports during the first half of 2015-16 have been valued at $132.93 billion versus $161.39 billion in the same period of last year. Exports were down 17.36 per cent yera-on-year in the first half of 2015-16. Also Read – Punjab & Sind Bank cuts MCLR by up to 20 basis pointsAs per the data released by the Commerce Ministry, the trade gap or trade deficit during April-September 2015-16 has narrowed to $67.99 billion as against $72.69 billion in the same period last fiscal. The data further showed that oil imports during September were valued at $6.62 billion, down 54.53 per cent year-on – year. Oil imports during April-September stood at $48.128 billion which were 41.58 per cent lower than that of $82.378 billion in the corresponding period last year. On export front, shipments of petroleum products shrank 60.35 per cent to $2.44 billion while that of iron ore declined by 40.37 per cent to 9.47 million. A sharp decline in exports of engineering products was also witnessed in September. The shipments declined by 22.81 per cent to $5 billion from $6.5 billion in the year ago period. Also Read – ‘The great gold bull market has begun’The decline in exports in September is the steepest since March 2015 when the shipments shrunk by 21.06 per cent. Expressing disappointment over the September numbers, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President S C Ralhan said the decline of 17.6 per cent in first six months of the fiscal will put enormous pressure even in realising the export figure which India achieved in 2014-15. “As against seven sectors which were in positive out of 30 for which disaggregated data is available for August, the number of sectors has further compressed to six only for the month of September,” he said.Ralhan however, expressed the hope that export numbers in coming months would be better following cut in interest rate by the RBI and encouraging IIP and manufacturing data of August. The data showed that non-oil imports during September were estimated at $25.697 billion which were 10.68 per cent lower than $28.76 billion in the same month of 2014.