Sri Lanka February trade gap widens, lower exports, higher rice, fuel imports

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s trade deficit widened to $743 million in February 2017 from a year ago, with a decline in exports amid increased imports mainly of fuel and rice, the Central Bank said.

Exports fell 2.7 percent in February to $867.8 million, while imports rose 11.9 percent to $1.61 billion, a statement said.

Sri Lanka’s January-February 2017 trade deficit widened to $1.68 billion from $1.24 billion the year before.

Earnings from industrial exports, which represent about 76 percent of total exports, declined 6.5 percent year-on-year to $659 million in February 2017 mainly due to reduced earnings from textiles and garments.

Export earnings from textiles and garments contracted 14.5 percent to $396 million in February 2017, reflecting a significant decline in garments exports to the EU and the US. Food, beverages and tobacco, and gems, diamonds and jewellery also contributed substantially to lower earnings from industrial exports.

However, earnings from machinery and mechanical appliances, petroleum products, and rubber products improved, the Central Bank said. Earnings from agricultural exports grew for the third consecutive month, registering a12.5 percent increase to $205 million in February 2017. Earnings from tea exports rose 12.8 percent in value terms due to higher prices, in spite of a decline in volumes exported.

Expenditure on imports increased 11.9 percent year-on-year to $1,611 million in February 2017, continuing double-digit growth seen in imports for the fifth consecutive month, the statement said.

Higher expenditure incurred on intermediate goods contributed largely to this growth.

Rice imports increased to $36 million in February 2017 in comparison to less than $1 million incurred in February 2016.
(COLOMBO, May 25, 2017)





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