Exports surge to $30.63 billion in April; imports rise to $45.72 billion

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 14, 2021

Trade deficit more than doubled to $15.10 billion

Sharp growth in exports across sectors, notably in the areas of gems and jewellery, engineering goods and petroleum products, resulted in a steep increase of 195.72 per cent in India’s exports performance in April 2021 to $30.63 billion compared to April 2020. Exports had plunged in April 2020 due to a halt in manufacturing activities during the Covid-induced lockdown, per quick estimates released by the Commerce Ministry.

The Commerce & Industry Ministry is optimistic about achieving goods exports worth $400 billion in 2021-22 as the export performance so far indicated “very good prospects’’, according to Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan. India’s exports had posted a fall of 7.26 per cent in financial year 2020-21 to $290.63 billion as outbound shipments had been hit massively in the initial months of the fiscal due to Covid-lockdown in the country and across the world.

Imports in April 2021 also posted a steep increase of 167.05 per cent at $45.72 billion compared to April 2020 with the sharpest increase in petroleum products, gold, precious & semi-precious stones, edible oil and electronic goods. Trade deficit more than doubled to $15.10 billion in April 2021 from $6.76 billion in April 2020.

Conceding that April 2020 was an anomalous month, the Commerce Secretary pointed out that the export performance in April 2021 was also 17.62 per cent higher than exports in April 2019 and was in fact also more than the average of the past three years. “By any methodology you adjust the base effect, you will find that the performance in April 2021 is significantly positive,” Wadhawan said.

Balanced recovery

On the whole recovery is very balanced in favour of exports. “A secular improvement is taking place in trade balance. Recovery is happening in a manner that in certain sectors like rice and pharmaceuticals we have established new markets and export is far more diversified,” Wadhawan said. The Secretary added that in 2021-22, exports were likely to have a broad-based growth.

Continuation of such a stellar performance would also depend on the ease of lockdown restrictions and business sentiments across the world, said Prahalathan Iyer, Chief General Manager, Research & Analysis, India Exim Bank. “As major parts of the world have contained the Covid with speedy vaccination drive, it is possible that the global demand could continue to be positive in the coming months giving impetus to India’s exports,” Iyer said.

Exporters want the government to declare the export sector as essential services. “The recent surge in Covid cases has some downside risks to the growth as various state governments have imposed lockdowns and curfews to contain the spread of the virus. This has caused a slowdown in inter-state movement of goods and shortage of manpower. In order to address this, we urge the government to classify the export sector as the essential services,” according to an official statement from the Engineering Export Promotion Council of India.

Exporters have faced logistical difficulties during the pandemic in terms of availability of containers and shipping services but with concerted efforts those were getting resolved, the Secretary said. Shipping lines were asked to bring more containers and the turnaround time was also reduced, he said.

Published on May 14, 2021

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