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 is 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.