Persistent slowdown in global markets has hit Indian exports which fell sharply by 21 per cent in March, the industry said today.
To arrest the fall in shipments, the industry sought declaration of exports as priority sector and restoration of interest subvention scheme to exporters.
"Such a big fall of over 21 per cent in exports is quite serious and is a pointer to the problems faced by the Indian merchandise in the global markets which are in the middle of slowdown. With the exception of the US, rest of the world, including China, Europe, is facing a squeeze," engineering exporters' body EEPC India Chairman Anupam Shah said.
The manufacturing cost coupled with transaction cost must come down while the government needs to stand by exporters, Shah said.
Exporters' body FIEO too said that "continuous slowdown in demand in global markets" and liquidity problem are in a major way responsible for the double-digit negative growth in exports during the last quarter of 2014-15.
"What has become of even more concern is the fact that the decline during the last quarter of 2014-15 was on a low base as exports declined in all the three months of the quarter," FIEO President S C Ralhan said.
"Double-digit decline in exports for three consecutive months is a cause of worry. However, with improved sentiment and Make in India initiative we have to reverse this trend," Ficci Secretary General Didar Singh said.
PHD Chamber said that exporters face "difficulty in procuring loans due to high interest rates at the domestic front" and "stringent overseas trade finance procedures".
"Government needs to instill confidence among exporters by creating hassle free business environment, simplification of policies and procedures, adequate financial support and awareness about the dynamic global markets to explore export potential of our country," PHD Chamber President Alok B Shriram said.
Indian exports at USD 310.5 billion for 2014-15 missed the annual target by 11.52 per cent as March shipments saw a steep fall of 21.06 per cent.
India had set a target of USD 340 billion for 2014-15.
Compared to previous fiscal, exports in 2014-15 are also down by a marginal 1.23 per cent.
Imports too dipped by 0.59 per cent to USD 447.5 billion in 2014-15, leaving a trade deficit of USD 137 billion in the last fiscal.
In March, exports dipped by 21.06 per cent year-on-year to USD 23.95 billion. Imports contracted by 13.44 per cent to USD 35.74 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 11.79 billion.
Gold imports during the month, however, almost doubled to USD 4.98 billion.