India: Trade continues to suffer badly in May
Merchandise exports fell 36.5% in year-on-year terms in May, after falling an historic 60.3% in April (the sharpest fall since at least the early 1990s), amounting to USD 19.1 billion. The continued weakness in May was likely due to both lower demand abroad and production disruptions domestically due to the national lockdown, which began in the final days of March and remained largely in force through May.
The decline in export shipments in May was broad-based across the economy, with the only major categories of shipments registering increases being the iron ore, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and spices and rice categories. Merchandise imports, meanwhile, sank 51.0% in May, after falling 58.6% in April, amounting to USD 22.2 billion.
The merchandise trade deficit narrowed to USD 3.2 billion in May, down from the USD 15.4 billion shortfall in the same month a year earlier. The 12-month trailing sum of the trade deficit narrowed to USD 132.1 billion in May from USD 144.3 billion in April.