Goods exports fall 60.28 per cent in April as virus takes its toll

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 15, 2020

Imports, too, plunge 58.65 per cent; exporters call for greater sops

India’s exports of goods in April 2020 fell 60.28 per cent to $ 10.36 billion (year-on-year), the steepest fall in over 25 years, with almost all major sectors such as gems & jewellery, garments and textiles, carpets, leather, engineering goods and petroleum products, posting a sharp fall.

“The decline in exports has been mainly due to the ongoing global slowdown, which got aggravated due to the current Covid-19 crisis. The latter resulted in large scale disruptions in supply chains and demand leading to the cancellation of orders,” according to an official release.

Imports declined 58.65 per cent to $ 17.12 billion in April 2020 with the sharpest drop in sectors such as electronics, petroleum, machinery, coal and chemicals, according to figures released by the Commerce & Industry Ministry on Friday. Trade deficit shrunk to $ 6.76 billion in April 2020 compared to $15.33 billion deficit in April 2019.

Exporters have sought additional measures from the government to help support the sector at this time of crisis when exports in all major sectors, except for pharmaceuticals and iron ore, have declined.

The sharp fall in employment-intensive sectors of exports has severe ramifications for jobs in the country particularly as domestic demand will also not be robust, pointed out Sharad Kumar Saraf, President, Federation of Indian Export Organisations, who added that this was the sharpest fall in over two-and-a-half decades.

Saraf said the government may consider providing additional incentives under existing schemes such as MEIS, the scope for which could be widened. FIEO also suggested that the government should allow rollover of forward cover without interest and penalty and automatic enhancement of limit by 25 per cent to address liquidity challenges.

While the package for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises announced by the government would provide liquidity infusion, units need straight forward fiscal support like waiving of electricity charges, water bills, and wage support for survival, said Ravi Sehgal from the Engineering Export Promotion Council.

“Besides, all dues and refunds should be immediately released to enable exporters tide over this unprecedented crisis,” he added.

In March 2020, India’s goods exports declined 34.57 per cent to $21.41 billion, pulling down overall export figures for THE financial year 2019-20 by 4.78 per cent to $314.31 billion.

Published on May 15, 2020

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