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Last updated: 20 Apr, 2020  

Exports.9.Thmb.jpg Export stimulus: When is it coming?

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Bikky Khosla | 20 Apr, 2020

Latest exports figures for March drastically reflect the harsh impact of the Corona crisis on the sector. According to data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry last week, India's exports plunged 34 percent in March on a year-on-year basis to $21.41 billion from $32.72 billion reported for the corresponding period in the previous year. It is the steepest monthly fall in at least 25 years.

Exports in March stood at just $21.4 billion, while annual exports fell to $314 billion in 2019-20, 5 percent lower than exports worth $331 billion in the previous year. The latest blow also cut short the Centre's export target of $350 billion for the year. A deeper look into the figures shows that 29 out of the 30 major product groups were in negative territory in March. It is also a major concern that the employment-intensive sectors of exports witnessed sharp decline during the period.

Meanwhile, imports also contracted by a massive 28.72 percent in March, which is not a surprise with major economies of the world in a state of lockdown. Imports stood at $31.16 billion in the month while the annual rate of decline was 9.12 percent. No doubt, this is a big relief on the trade balance and current account deficit fronts, particularly when the entire nation is struggling against COVID-19, and with crude oil prices coming down, we can expect even more comfort in the coming months.

But the big question at this moment is: when will the government come out with measures to rescue the exports sector. March foreign trade data clearly reflects the depth of trouble the sector is facing – risk of recession in global economy, crisis in domestic economy, cancellation of orders, labour crisis, rising NPAs, and so on – and it is widely feared that further delay in providing a comprehensive relief package will result in a catastrophe for the sector. Our exporters urgently need support, more than ever before.

I invite your opinions.

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