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
I invite your opinions.