With global downturn taking its toll on India, about 15 lakh people employed in the exporting sector will be out of jobs by March this year, Commerce Secretary GK Pillai said on Tuesday.
"We have figures from August till middle of January. We estimate something like between 7-10 lakh job losses till now," Pillai told a leading news channel in an interview.
He said if the slowdown, especially in the US, Europe and Japan continues, another five lakh people would be unemployed by March.
Earlier in the day, Pillai told reporters that the prospects for the country's outward trade look bleak for the next fiscal as well.
"It would be an achievement if we reach USE 160 billion-mark in 2009-2010," he said.
After an impressive expansion of over 30 per cent in the first six months of 2008-09, export growth has turned negative with the result that the total shipments in the current fiscal would fall much short of the $ 200 billion target.
Though exports account for less than 20 per cent of the country's GDP, the sector is highly employment oriented with the total estimated 6.5 crore workforce.
"Exports are going to come down and we have to live with it," Pillai said.