Ecuador, a country already facing a crisis from the collapse of oil prices, has seen a “sharp drop” in both exports and imports due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Deputy Foreign Trade Minister Daniel Legarda said.
“There is a sharp drop. By the end of the year, non-oil imports are going to decrease by around 20 to 25 per cent, while non-oil exports will decrease between 10 and 15 per cent,” Legarda said in an interview with local radio station Radio Centro.
Figures show that in the first quarter of this year, exports “had a positive performance,” registering “relevant growth of slightly more than 10 per cent,” mainly driven by bananas, shrimp, and cacao, he said.
However, in April the figures “are showing us a different reality,” with preliminary numbers indicating that exports fell by 250 million to 300 million U.S. dollars, he added.
Legarda blamed the dismal performance on closed markets and a drop in demand, as well as internal factors, such as difficulties in transporting goods given the curfew imposed on March 16 to slow the spread of the virus.
Globally, the frequency of air and sea transportation has been cut, and all of that adds up to lower activity in import-exports, said Legarda, who is also the former president of the Ecuadorian Exporters Federation.
Imports were hit not just by the pandemic but also by the country’s own slowing economy, he said.
The government has forecast a 4 per cent contraction in economic activity in 2020.
Up to March, imports fell between 350 million and 400 million U.S. dollars, then plunged further in April to surpass 500 million U.S. dollars, according to the official.
Ecuador, now in its fifth week of lockdown, has reported 11,183 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 560 deaths from the disease as of Thursday.