India's exports contracted for the ninth month in a row, dipping 20.66% in August to $21.26 billion, due to steep decline in engineering and petroleum shipments.
Trade deficit widened to $12.47 billion due to 140% rise in gold imports in August from year-ago period.
However, the deficit has narrowed as compared to July, when the figure stood at $12.81 billion.
Imports too declined by 9.95% to $33.74 billion, according to the commerce ministry data.
Expressing disappointment over the dip, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said softening of prices of key agricultural and industrial inputs, coupled with dip in global demand, is the prime cause for the decline.
"The Prime Minister and the commerce and industry minister should intervene in the matter. Immediate consultation with export bodies should be held to draw a roadmap for exports in such challenging time in which reaching last year's exports figure looks difficult," it said in a statement.
Last time in March, exports had dipped by 21%.
Gold imports increased to $4.95 billion in the month under review from $2.06 billion in August last year.
The main sectors which reported decline in exports include petroleum products (47.88%), engineering (29%), leather (12.78%), marine products (20.83%) and carpet (22%).
Also, oil imports dropped 42.59% in August to $7.35 billion. Oil imports account for about 31% of the total imports. Petroleum product and engineering exports account for 18% and about 25%, respectively of the country's total exports.
Non-oil imports, however, grew by 7.01% to $26.38 billion.
During the first five months (April-August) period, exports are down 16.17% at $111.09 billion. Imports too have declined by 11.61% to $168.6 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $57.5 billion.