Easter attacks, lower US apparel demand hits Sri Lanka’s exports in Sept

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s exports fell 9.8 percent from a year earlier to 952.1 million US dollars in September due to a fall in apparel exports and lingering effects from the Easter Sunday attacks on aviation gas sales, the central bank said.

Exports have fallen across most segments, the central bank said.

Apparel, which is Sri Lanka’s largest export, fell 5.8 percent from a year earlier to 419.1 million US dollars in September, recording a decline for the first time since July 2018.

A decline in exports to the US, despite a 3.2 percent growth in the European Union market, contributed to the fall. The US and European markets each command over 40 percent of Sri Lanka’s apparel exports.

Rubber product exports fell 1.2 percent to 70.9 million US dollars due to lower tyre exports.

Petroleum product exports fell 41.3 percent to 38.7 million US dollars, as lower aviation fuel was sold due to a fall in tourist arrivals following the Easter Sunday attacks.

Tea exports fell 9.9 percent to 110.4 million US dollars due to both lower volumes sold and falling global prices.

Gems and jewellery exports meanwhile grew 28.4 percent to 24.6 million US dollars. Exports of chemical products, vegetables and other minor crops were the only other segments to record growth during the month.

Spending on imports meanwhile fell 3.3 percent to 1.71 billion US dollars, moderating for the 11th straight month.

The fuel bill fell 10.7 percent to 353.7 million US dollars due to falling oil prices and lower imports of refined petroleum.

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Personal vehicle imports fell 49.2 percent to 70.1 million US dollars.

Food and beverage spending grew 1.3 percent to 92.2 million US dollars owing to a rise in potato imports following a short supply in the local market, while expenditure on dairy products fell.

Investment good imports grew 19.3 percent to 396.6 million US dollars with increases across all categories.

Machinery and equipment imports were 206.5 million US dollars, rising 17.5 percent with purchases of generators and other electrical equipment.

Building material imports were up 7 percent to 136.5 million US dollars on concrete and steel imports, mainly for bridge building.

Spending on transport equipment grew 84.7 percent to 53.2 million US dollars with greater imports of railway equipment, and commercial vehicles such as tankers and buses.

The central bank said export prices fell at a faster rate in September compared to the fall in import prices. (Colombo/Nov18/2019)

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