India’s merchandise exports fell by 60.28% to $10.36 billion (Rs 78,529 crore) in April, Mint reported on Friday. Imports shrank by 58.65% to $17.12 billion (Rs 1.29 lakh crore), leaving a trade deficit of $6.8 billion (Rs 51,554 crore), as the economy continued to struggle due to a nationwide lockdown imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The stalling of the global economy due to similar lockdowns imposed in many countries would also have affected the export and import of goods.
While exports in April stood at their lowest level since November 2006, imports were the lowest in over 11 years. In March, India’s merchandise exports had slumped by a record 34.6% while imports declined 28.7%.
Out of 30 major exporting items, only iron ore and pharmaceuticals showed positive growth. While iron ore exports grew 17.5%, pharmaceutical exports grew a measly 0.25%.
The fall in exports was led by a decline in the sale of gems and jewellery by 98.74%, engineering goods by 64.76%, electronic goods by 71.04%, petroleum products by 66.22%, and organic and inorganic chemicals by 41.93%, according to Trading Economics.
The World Trade Organization had projected in April that merchandise trade would shrink by 13% to 32% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The wide range of possibilities for the predicted decline is explained by the unprecedented nature of this health crisis and the uncertainty around its precise economic impact,” it said. “But WTO economists believe the decline will likely exceed the trade slump brought on by the global financial crisis of 2008‑’09.”
The Indian economy is projected to grow at 0.2% for 2020, according to credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service. The agency also projected late last month that all advanced economies of the G20 group would shrink by 5.8% during the year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on May 11 announced a special economic package of Rs 20-lakh crore to bail out the economy.
India has so far reported 81,970 cases of Covid-19, including 2,549 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Globally, over 44.7 lakh people have been infected, and 3.03 lakh have died.