After contracting for six straight months, India's exports rose 5.99% to $27.58 billion in September on account of growth in shipments of drugs and pharmaceuticals and readymade garments, as per the government data released on Thursday.

Exports stood at $26.02 billion in September 2019. The country's imports contracted 19.6% to $30.31 billion in September. It was $37.69 billion in the same month last year.

The trade deficit narrowed to $2.72 billion, compared to a shortfall of $11.67 billion in the year ago-month.

Gold imports declined by nearly 53% to $601.43 million in September. "Exports in September 2020 were $27.58 billion, as compared to $26.02 billion in September 2019, exhibiting a positive growth of 5.99% ," the government said in a statement.

During the April-September 2020 period, exports declined by 16.66% to $221.86 billion, while imports fell 35.43% to $204.12 billion over the same period last year.

Major export commodities that have recorded positive growth during September include iron ore (109.65 per cent at USD 303.42 million), readymade garments (10.22 per cent at USD 1.19 billion), rice (93.86 per cent at USD 725.14 million), and drugs and pharmaceuticals (24.38 per cent at USD 2.24 billion).

However, outbound shipments of gems and jewellery declined 24.67 per cent and Mica, Coal and other ores, minerals including processed minerals slipped 6.71 per cent.

The data further revealed that non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in September stood at USD 21.27 billion, as compared to USD 19 billion in the same period previous fiscal, registering a growth of 11.94 per cent.

Oil imports dipped 35.88 per cent to USD 5.83 billion in September. During April-September, it declined 51.14 per cent to USD 31.86 billion.

"In this connection, it is mentioned that the global Brent price (USD/bbl) has decreased by 34.08 per cent in September 2020 vis-a-vis September 2019 as per data available from World Bank," the statement said.

Taking merchandise and services together, the overall trade surplus for April-September is estimated at USD 17.74 billion as compared to the deficit of USD 49.91 billion in the year-ago period.

The estimated value of services exports for September is USD 16.34 billion and that of imports is 9.49 billion.

Since March, the country's outbound shipments were recording negative growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant fall in global demand.