Commerce ministry reviews corona impact on trade

Overall merchandise shipments contracted by 1.7% y-o-y in January to $26 billion, the sixth straight month of contraction.

The commerce ministry on Thursday held a meeting with key industry bodies and various export promotion councils to gauge the impact of the coronavirus on trade, amid mounting fears over the damaging impact of the pandemic on Indian exports. Already, basmati rice exports dropped 20% year-on-year in January and non-basmati by 14%, oil meals by 64% and cotton garments by almost 4%. Overall merchandise shipments contracted by 1.7% y-o-y in January to $26 billion, the sixth straight month of contraction.

On top of this, a potential shortage of raw materials for sectors, ranging from pharma, chemicals, electronics and solar energy, loom as main raw material supplier China struggles to contain the Covid-19 spread. The situation is expected to have only worsened in February.

The meeting was chaired by the minister of state for commerce and industry Som Parkash and attended by commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan and senior officials of the ministry. Representatives of industry chambers such as CII, Ficci and Assocham, exporters’ body FIEO and export promotion councils attended the meeting and shared their concerns.

Earlier this month, India restricted exports of 26 drug formulations and active pharma ingredients (APIs) to keep domestic supplies steady. The Indian pharmaceutical industry is both an exporter to as well as importer of bulk drugs (active pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates that give medicines their therapeutic value) from China.