India missed the FY15 export target of $340 billion by 8.7% due to a sluggish demand and appreciation of the rupee, government data showed on Friday. Merchandise exports stood at $310.5 billion in FY15, even lower than the $314 billion achieved in the previous fiscal, underscoring risks to growth recovery as tepid demand in key advanced markets such as the US and Europe continues to hurt Indian exports. Merchandise exports declined (-21%) for the fourth month in a row to $23.95 billion in March, compared with $30.34 billion a year earlier. Imports fell 13.44% to $35.74 billion, widening the trade deficit to $11.79 billion from $10.95 billion a year earlier. Expressing concern over the declining trend in exports from December 2014, Federation of Indian Export Organisations president SC Ralhan asked for declaring exports as a priority sector and restoring of interest subvention scheme to exporters to arrest the fall in exports. Ralhan said almost all major sectors of exports, including engineering goods, petroleum products, gems and jewellery, pharmaceutical, and organic and inorganic chemicals, have shown a negative growth during the last three months. A sharp decline in crude oil prices has also further reduced shipments of petroleum products, which constitute a sizeable share in the country\u2019s exports. The latest data put a question mark on whether the target of increasing annual exports to as high as $900 billion over the next five years could be achieved. For FY15, the deficit widened by $1.2 billion to $137 billion, from $135.8 billion in the previous year.