major emerging economies including China and us.
"Year 2012 is not a year which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, my colleague at the finance ministry P Chidambaram or I would like to remember," Sharma told a industry gathering at a luncheon meeting with the visiting Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Mumbai on Saturday.
The country's economic growth this fiscal has been sharply revised downwards from 8%-plus in the beginning to a decadal low of 5.5-6.0%.
Many private bankers and agencies have pegged it even below 5%. The IMF has also pegged 2012 GDP growth at 4.9%.
Similarly, for Sharma, who drove exports last fiscal above the USD 300-billion target to USD 304.8 billion, 2012 has been unsatisfactory with exports falling by high double digits almost every month.
"We would like to leave it in as good a state as we can and take-off in January 2013 to a high growth trajectory again," Sharma told the industrialists assembled by the three chambers -- CII, Ficci and Assocham.
However, Sharma said he drew comfort from the fact that the country was still growing at higher pace as compared to the US, Europe and Japan.
"When we talk to the Americans or the Europeans they say that Minister Sharma, why are you worried? You are still growing at 6-6.5%."
But the minister said this growth "is not enough for us, and we need to go back to 8-plus per cent, then only we can create jobs for over 12 million who join the workforce every year.
"This is not a choice, or an option or a wish; it is absolutely an imperative and a priority for us because it has a social dimension," Sharma said.
Continuing its downward spiral for the fifth month in a row, exports contracted by 10.8% in September to USD 23.69 billion, pushing the trade gap to a 16-month high of USD 18 billion.
However, imports grew by at a low pace of only 5% after four months of decline to USD 41.77 billion from USD 39.75 billion a year ago.
For the cumulative April-September period, exports dipped by 6.79% to USD 143.6 billion from USD 154.1 billion in the same period last year.
Imports during the first half contracted by 4.36% to USD 232.92 billion.
Trade deficit during the period stood at USD 89.25 billion from USD 89.39 billion in April-September 2011.
Oil imports in September rose 30.74% to USD 14.09 billion from USD 10.77 billion a year ago.