Bikky Khosla | 22 Sep, 2020
Contracting for the sixth straight
month, merchandise exports slumped by over 12 percent y-o-y in August. After
registering 2.44 percent growth to $26.67 billion in February, exports plunged
by over 34 percent in March (at $21.41 billion), 60 percent in April (at $10.36
billion), 36 percent in May (at $19.05 billion), 12 percent in June (at $21.91
billion) and 10 percent in July (at $ 23.64 billion) on a y-o-y basis. Now in
August exports stood at $21.41 billion against $25.99 billion in August, 2019. These
figures speak a lot for themselves.
A deeper look into the August exports
figures shows that 14 out of 30 major product groups were in positive territory
during the month, but there was decline in exports from labour-intensive sectors,
which contribute largely to employment generation in the country. Additionally,
sharp decline in imports -- (-) 26.04 percent to $29.47 billion in August from
$39.85 billion in August, 2019 – is also a concern as it signals to lacklustre industrial
recovery in the coming months. These trends need to be reversed.
Looking on the bright side, it is
encouraging that our exporters, according to reports, have now started receiving
a lot of enquiries and orders from across the globe. This is a good sign, and
the situation is likely to get better and better in next few months,
particularly with economic activities picking up pace across major economies.
Experts, however, add that the Centre should now look for further boosting
exports by means of signing well-thought-out FTAs and multilateral agreements,
in the background of the yet-to-recover global supply chain.
Meanwhile, services exports from the
country fell by 10.76 percent in July to $17.03 billion, according to RBI data. The value of exports
and imports of services during the month of July 2020 were $17.03 billion and
$10.04 billion respectively, the data shows. This is a concern, particularly
when we take the fact into account that the services sector has been
contracting for five consecutive months since March. This sector, which
has been a key driver of our economy, urgently needs a helping hand.
I invite your opinions.