India’s exports grew 56.9% during May 2011, the fastest pace of expansion since March 2004, to $25.9 billion. The provisional numbers released belie the government’s own expectations of a moderation in growth rate, partly due to shipments rising at a fast clip during the last financial year. While sectoral break-up for May was unavailable, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters hat the engineering sector led the way in the first two months, clocking a growth of 115% to $14.7 billion. Higher oil prices helped Indian refiners such as Reliance Industries step up the value of consignments in their tankers. The sector grew 64% to $8.8 billion in April-May 2011. Similarly, electronics exports grew 80% to $1.83 billion while the other stars included gems & jewellery (23% to $ 5.7 billion), cotton yarn and made-ups (10.4% to $1.04 billion) and marine products (15.8% to $400 million). Along with a rise in exports, trade deficit too widened in May on higher imports of crude mirroring rising global crude prices, prompting Khullar to warn that the gap between exports and imports could reach $150 billion. The other major contributor to the surge in imports were gold and silver, where prices have been on the rise for the last few months, resulting in imports rising 222% to $13.5 billion during April-May. Import of oil went up 12.9% to $20.3 billion during this period. The other sectors where imports went up significantly included major pearls and precious stones (24.6% to $5.2 billion) and machinery (46.7% to $5.9 billion). “The big change between the last couple of months and now is that imports have suddenly surged,” Khullar said. During the period April-May 2011, exports grew 45.3% to $49.8 billion, while imports were up 33% to $73.7 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $23.9 billion.