PTI, New Delhi : After recording positive growth for seven consecutive months, exports contracted 3.67 per cent in February to USD 25.68 billion, although the trade deficit showed a marked improvement mainly on account of a significant decline in gold imports. The trade deficit in February, as per data released by the government yesterday, narrowed to USD 8.13 billion, the lowest level in five months. It improved mainly on account of a 71.42 per cent decline in gold and silver imports to USD 1.63 billion in February from USD 5.71 billion in the same month a year earlier. Total imports fell 17.09 per cent to USD 33.81 billion last month. Oil imports, too, declined 3.1 per cent to USD 13.6 billion. Apex exporters body FIEO said that due to the decline in overseas shipments, India’s exports will fall short of target by about USD 15 to 18 billion. The government has estimated exports at USD 325 billion in this financial year. “Credit is the biggest problem which exporters are facing. Arrears of duty refund claims have crossed Rs 20,000 crore. Global demand is there but we are unable to take advantage of this due to credit problem,” Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Rafeeque Ahmed said. After registering a 13.47 per cent growth in October, exports recorded growth in single digits until January. Sectors contributing significantly to the export basket such as petroleum, engineering and pharmaceuticals registered a decline in February.