Ecuadorian exports of shrimp to the country's main market of China rebounded sharply in April as the Asian powerhouse nation began to emerge from coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Shipments to China climbed 59 percent over March to 104.4 million pounds.

Ecuadorian shrimp exports to Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, however, nosedived again last month as buyers suspended orders because of the coronavirus health crisis.

The slump in shipments came after European countries moved into lockdown leading to a collapse in foodservice sector demand as restaurants, bars and cafes closed.

Despite this, Ecuador's total global exports were 4 percent higher in April than a year earlier at 127.7 million pounds. Revenues slipped 0.5 percent from the same month in 2019 to $317.4 million (€290.1 million).

In the opening four months of 2020, Ecuador's worldwide exports rose 13 percent from a year earlier to 485.3 million pounds, while revenues were 8 percent higher at $1.22 billion (€1.11 billion).

Without the effects of the coronavirus crisis, Ecuador expected to ship much more shrimp given the steep rise in exports seen over most of 2019, although shipments were already slowing in December and January before the worst of the outbreak.

Ecuador's shrimp processing plants have been running at between 40-45 percent of capacity amid lockdown restrictions that are curtailing the freedom of movement.

As part of efforts to prevent shrimp businesses from failing, the industry is stepping up calls to the government to allow shrimp producers to defer payments of income and value-added taxes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month the World Bank approved $506 million (€463 million) in emergency loans and grants for Ecuador to help the Andean nation tackle one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Latin America.

Aid includes a flexible $500 million (458 million) loan to help Ecuadorian authorities cover budget requirements during the crisis and to stimulate economic recovery.

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