New Delhi: India’s exports declined by 34.57% to $21.41 billion in March 2020, according to data released by the government on Wednesday evening.
The slump is largely due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. For the whole year (FY’20), exports fell by 4.78% to $314.31 billion. .
The data showed that the trade deficit narrowed to $9.76 billion in March 2020 from $11 billion in the same month last year.
“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 resulting in cancellation of orders,” the commerce ministry said in statement.
Imports in March dipped by 28.72% to $31.16 billion. It contracted by 9.12% per cent to $467.19 billion in 2019-20.
India’s overall exports, including goods and services combined, in April-March 2019-20 are estimated to be at $528.45 billion, showing a negative growth of 1.36% over the same period last year, the ministry said.
The repercussions of a lockdown in countries across the world is expected to continue for the next few months. The World Trade Organisation has projected global merchandise trade to plummet by anywhere between 13-32% in 2020 due to the novel 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. But WTO economists believe the decline will likely exceed the trade slump brought on by the global financial crisis of 2008‑09,” it said last week.
In February, merchandise exports had picked up by 2.9% after contracting for six consecutive months.
Out of the 30 major items in India’s export and import baskets, 29 export and import goods witnessed contraction in March, signalling the severity of the slump in global demand and the lockdowns enforced in multiple countries. Only iron ore exports (58.4%) and import of transport equipment (11.9%) registered positive growth during the month.
(With inputs from agencies)