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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A recovery in Indian exports gathered steam in March with a pick-up in demand for engineering and petroleum products, bolstering an economy still recovering from the government's cash clampdown.
However, a surge in gold and crude oil imports widened the monthly trade deficit to a four-month high of $10.44 billion, data released by the government showed on Thursday.
Merchandise exports grew 28 percent to $29.23 billion in March year-on-year, while imports rose 45.25 percent to $39.67 billion over the same period.
The export numbers bode well for India's $2-trillion economy that is still smarting from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision in November to ban high-value currency notes.
They will also cheer Modi who aims to lift India's share in global trade to 5 percent by 2020. Indian goods exports currently account for just 1.6 percent of global trade, compared with nearly 14 percent for China.
Higher volumes and prices doubled petroleum imports to $9.7 billion in March from a year ago. Gold imports surged by more than four times to $4.2 billion last month on restocking as well as demand from the marriage and festive season.
The trade deficit for the year ending in March declined to $105.72 billion from $118.7 billion in the previous year, the data showed.
Thursday's figures come a day after the World Trade Organization (WTO) forecast an annual 2.4 percent growth in global trade this year despite "deep uncertainty" about economic and policy developments globally, particularly in the United States.
Global trade grew by "an usually low" 1.3 percent in 2016, the slowest pace since the financial crisis, failing to match even its revised forecast of 1.7 percent of last September.
Reporting by Manoj Kumar and Rajesh Kumar Singh