India: Exports in March contracted by 35%

After 30 days of the 40-day lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus, the two western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat have so far accounted for more than half of the nationwide infections and almost 80% of the fatalities, reported ITTO.

Manufacturing at 4-month low

While the manufacturing sector was largely unaffected by the impact of the global pandemic up to March, there has since been a sharp decline in output as international as well as domestic demand evaporated. Exports in March contracted by 35% from a year ago, the sharpest decline in at least two decades. All woodworking industries have stopped operations and most of the workers laid off and have returned to their home states.

House prices set to sink

With economic activity at a standstill as a result of the 40-day lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced measures to boost liquidity and expand credit in order to help banks, housing finance companies and non-banking finance companies.

The National Real Estate Development Council has estimated house prices could decline by around 10-15% this year and that the drop may be even greater. For those with job security or savings this will present a buying opportunity, said Deepak Parekh, Chairman of the Housing Development Finance Corporation.

Parekh commented that the real estate market was depressed and it is an unfortunate irony that the pandemic arrived just at the time the government‘s affordable housing scheme was beginning to have a positive impact.

Woodworking industry to be prepared for a ‘new normal’ after COVID-19

Changes in the housing market will have a major impact on wood product manufacturers and Parekh commented that the wood working industry should be prepared for a ‘new normal’ after the crisis.

He anticipates delayed projects and labour shortages because most workers returned to their home states. In such a scenario the temptation will be to increase wood product imports but there is a general feeling in the country that a too high dependence on imports is not good.

Writers for have published online an analysis of how India’s real estate sector will look in a post-Coronavirus world.

This report, in contrast to the views of the National Real Estate Development Council, suggests building and development may become costlier for builders, amid likely delays in supplies and government approvals.