India's merchandise exports rose by 22.63 percent year-on-year to USD 33.79 billion in September on better performance by key sectors even as the trade deficit widened to USD 22.59 billion, according to official data released on Thursday. Merchandise imports stood at USD 56.39 billion in September, an increase of 84.77 percent compared to the year-ago period.The trade deficit in September widened to USD 22.59 billion as against USD 2.96 billion in the same month last year, due to a significant jump in gold and oil imports, the data showed. Gold imports during September zoomed to USD 5.11 billion as against USD USD 601 million during the same period last year.Oil imports in September were USD 17.44 billion compared to USD 5.83 billion in September 2020. During April-September 2021, imports stood at USD 72.99 billion as against USD 32.01 billion in the same period last year.Export sectors that recorded positive growth during the month include coffee, cashew, petroleum products, handloom, engineering, chemicals, man-made yarn/fabrics, gems and jewellery, plastic and marine products. Cumulatively, exports rose by 57.53 percent to USD 197.89 billion as against USD 125.62 billion during April-September 2020.Imports during the period rose by 81.67 percent to USD 276 billion as against USD 151.94 billion during April-September 2020. The trade deficit during the first six months of the fiscal widened to USD 78.13 billion as against USD 26.31 billion during April-September 2020.Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) Vice-Chairman Khalid Khan said that going by the trend India will hit USD 400 billion exports by the end of the fiscal. "But we should be a little cautious about the trade deficit," Khan said.FIEO President A Sakthivel said that recovery in the global economies across the world and expectations of buoyant order booking position for the coming months specially during the festive season has also led to such continuous growth in exports. Technocraft Industries India founder chairman Sharad Kumar Saraf said increasing exports are a healthy sign for economy but widening of trade gap is definitely a matter of concern.