Imports into the country fell faster than exports from the country in March 2008-09 even as the country's exports extended negative growth for the sixth consecutive month.
Exports from the country fell nearly 20 per cent to below $12 billion in March, the closing month of fiscal 2008-09, extending negative growth for the sixth month in a row amidst a slump in demand in the world's major economies.
Exports in March 2008 were valued at $16.28 billion.
"I expect that in March exports would be about $12-14 billion," he said, adding, for the fiscal ended March 2009, the total exports would be worth $168-170 billion.
Pillai was talking to reporters on the sidelines of an Indo-American Chamber of Commerce meeting in New Delhi.
Imports into the country also declined 37 per cent in March 2008-09, according to provisional data provided by the commerce ministry. The official March figures are due to be released on 1 May.
The country's import bill in March 2008 was $23.17 billion, about 35 per cent more than in March 2007.
India's total exports for fiscal 2008-09 are likely to be about $168-170 billion, higher than 2007-08 overseas shipments, but lower than the $200 billion projected at the start of the financial year.
The country exported goods worth $162 billion in the whole of fiscal 2007-08, he said, adding, the rate of decline in imports was more than the rate of decline in exports.
He said the growth rate of exports at about 35 per cent in the first half 2008-09 would not be maintained in 2009-10. "This year obviously we will not grow that much," he told reporters on the sidelines of an IIFT meet here.