Sri Lanka exports up in May, trade deficit widens to $886mln

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s exports rose for the third straight month in May 2017, helped by higher earnings from tea, but increased spending on imports widened the trade deficit to $886 million, the central bank said.

Export earnings rose 7.8 percent to $841.2 million in May 2017 from a year ago with exports of tea up by 45.9 percent to $132 million owing to both higher prices and increased volumes, it said in a statement.

“Reflecting high tea prices in the international market, the average export price of tea increased to $5.41 per kilo in May 2017 in comparison to $4.24 per kilo in May 2016.”

However, export earnings from textiles and garments declined by 4.1 percent o $359 million in May 2017 reflecting a decline in garment exports to the USA and EU markets.

“Despite exports increasing for the third consecutive month, the higher increase in import expenditure resulted in a further expansion of the trade deficit,” the central bank said.

Imports rose 8.6 percent to $1.73 billion in May 2017 from a year ago,

Expenditure on consumer goods imports increased by 17.5 percent to $386million in May 2017, mainly driven by higher imports of food and beverages particularly sugar and rice.

“The increasing trend in rice imports observed since January 2017 continued in May 2017 as a result of measures taken by the government to encourage rice imports to meet the shortage in the domestic supply,” the statement said.

Spending on import of intermediate goods increased by 1.6 per cent to $865 million in May 2017, largely due to higher expenditure on fuel imports.

Spending on fuel imports increased by 15.3 percent owing to increases in average import prices of all fuel categories, despite lower import volumes of refined petroleum and coal.
(COLOMBO, August 01, 2017)





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