India's exports shrank by a record 60.28 per cent to $10.36 billion in April as production units remained closed due to coronavirus lockdown, according to data by the commerce and industry ministry. The imports plunged 58.65 per cent to $17.12 billion in April as against $41.4 billion in the corresponding month of last year, the data also showed. The trade deficit narrowed to $6.76 billion compared to $15.33 billion in the year ago period.
"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 ministry said in a statement.
Major commodity groups which recorded negative export growth during April were gems and jewellery (-98.74 per cent), leather (-93.28 per cent), petroleum products (-66.22 per cent) and engineering goods (-64.76 per cent). Oil imports in April stood at $4.66 billion, which was 59.03 per cent lower as compared to the same month last year.
Meanwhile, the exports fell by 34.57 per cent in March due to a steep decline in shipments of leather, gems and jewellery and petroleum products. The merchandise exports in March stood at $21.41 billion, down by 34,57 per cent compared to $32.72 billion in the same month last year. The imports too had fallen by 28.72 per cent to $31.16 billion.
It was the steepest rate of fall since at least 1995. The commerce ministry website has trade data available between 1996-97 to 2019-20 (April-January (Provisional)). The exports had fallen 34.22 per cent in May 2009.