Merchandise exports drop over 60%

With global trade stalling on COVID-19, shipments nosedive in April

With the global trade coming to a near halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s merchandise exports nosedived over 60% in the last month to $10.36 billion from $26.07 billion in April 2019.

Except for iron ore and drugs and pharmaceuticals, all other commodities saw a negative growth.

As per government estimates, service exports for April 2020 — which will be revised later — stood at $17.60 billion, taking India’s overall exports to $27.96 billion, a decline of 36.65% year-on-year.

“The decline in [merchandise] 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 Ministry of Commerce said.

Ravi Sehgal, chairman, Engineering Export Promotion Council said that the over 60% drop in merchandise exports during April 2020 is no surprise given a near halt in the global trade and it would be a long haul before normalcy returns.

Noting that exporting units, especially in the engineering sectors, are largely MSMEs, Mr. Sehgal said while the MSME package would provide liquidity infusion, the units need straight- forward fiscal support like waiving of electricity charges, water bills, and wage support for survival.

“All dues and refunds should be immediately released to enable exporters to tide over this unprecedented crisis,” he added. Except for iron ore and drugs and pharmaceuticals, which registered a growth of 17.53% and 0.25% respectively, all other commodities registered negative growth in April 2020 vis-a-vis April 2019.

Major commodity groups that recorded negative export growth during April 2020 are Gems & jewellery (-98.74%), Leather & leather products (-93.28%), Handicrafts (-91.84%), Carpet (-91.67%), Jute manufacturing (-90.61%), Man-made fabrics (-84.11%), Ceramic products & glassware (-76.72%), Electronic goods (-71.04%), Tea (-68.89%), Tobacco (-68.47%), Cashew (-67.55%), Petroleum products (-66.22%), Engineering goods (-64.76%) and Meat, dairy & poultry products (-60.34%).

Non-petroleum and Non-Gems and Jewellery exports in April 2020 were $9.08billion as compared to $19.54billion in April 2019, a negative growth of 53.54%.


Merchandise imports in April 2020 stood at USD 17.12 billion, 58.65% lower than imports of USD 41.40 billion in April 2019. Major commodity groups of import that showed negative growth include electronic goods (-62.72%), petroleum, crude & products (-59%), machinery, electrical and non-electrical (-52.91%), Coal, coke & Briquettes (-48.83%) and organic & inorganic chemicals (-35.10%).

Oil imports in April 2020 were 59% lower at $4.66 billion compared to $11.38 billion in April 2019. Non-oil imports in April 2020 were estimated at $12.46 billion compared to $30.02billion in April 2019.

Trade deficit

The merchandise trade deficit for April 2020 was estimated at $6.76 billion as against the deficit of $15.33 billion in April 2019. The statement said, “Taking merchandise and services together, overall trade surplus for April 2020 is estimated at $0.16 billion as compared to the deficit of $8.67 billion in April 2019.”

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