India's exports contracted for the seventh successive month plunging by 33.2 per cent in April as the new government groped for options to revive growth amid the worst slowdown in the world economy in the last 80 years.
Exports for the month of April stood at $ 10.7 billion as compared to $16.07 billion in the same month of the previous year, data released on Monday showed.
Shrinking world demand has affected India’s handicrafts, gems and jewellery, leather and textile exports severely during the current financial year.
Imports fell faster than exports declining by 36.6 per cent in April, with non-oil imports contracting 24.6 per cent, suggesting that domestic investment activity continued to remain sluggish.
Minister of state for commerce and industry Jyotiraditya Scindia said the government was taking urgent steps to halt the slide. “Our target is to make sure that at least we have flat growth in exports," the 38-year-old minister told reporters after assuming charge on Monday.
He said revival of the manufacturing and export sectors were among the topmost priorities of the government, and several new schemes would be unveiled in the new five-year Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) expected in August.
“It is important to have a policy framework in place,” he said.
Scindia said special economic zones (SEZs) could be pivotal in aiding a manufacturing revival.
“Exports from SEZs have already reached Rs 99,000 crore. There is tremendous scope for investment in these zones. We can also look at utilisation of wastelands for SEZs,” he said.
Analysts said there are early signs of revival of the manufacturing sector. “Data show that the sector is currently being carried by robust domestic demand, as export sales continues to fall,” said Gemma Wallace, economist at Markit, a global financial information services company.