G20 international merchandise trade weakened in the first quarter of 2020 due to coronavirus containment measures imposed by many governments, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced Thursday.

The figure hit the lowest level since the second quarter of 2017 as exports reached $3.45 trillion in January-March, dropping 4.3% from the last quarter of 2019, while imports slipped 3.9% to $3.47 trillion, the OECD data showed.

Its impact on trade across G20 economies varied widely in January-March due to differences in the spreading rate of COVID-19, in containment strategies, and in the extent of their exposure to other countries affected by the lockdowns.

France, India, Italy and the UK, which all introduced nationwide lockdowns in March, saw their exports fall 7.1%, 9.2%, 4.9% and 7.8% respectively while imports dropped 7.0%, 2.3%, 5.6% and 6.5% respectively.

German trade fared slightly better than other G20 European Union economies, with exports and imports falling only 3.5% and 2.4% respectively.

In China, where the virus emerged, exports dropped 9.3% and imports 7.0% in the first quarter of 2020, while in Japan exports fell 4.0% and imports were down 4.4% quarter-on-quarter.

Russian and Saudi Arabian exports fell 9.9% and 10.2% respectively, following the collapse in oil prices.

Data showed that Turkey’s exports slipped 3.4%, hitting $43.4 billion, while imports went up 2.5% to $56.5 billion during the same period.

The OECD added that early indications for April pointed to sharper falls in the second quarter.

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