Sri Lanka imports down 2.5-pct, exports down 5.6-pct in 2015

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s exports fell 5.6 percent from a year earlier to 10,504 million dollars and imports fell 2.5 percent to 18.9 billion US dollars, with the trade gap rising marginally to 8,430 million US dollars, central bank data showed.

Central Bank’s head of economic research K M M Siriwardene, said oil imports fell 41.3 percent to 2.6 billion US dollars but non-oil imports rose 9.6 percent to 15,235 million dollars.

In late 2015 and early 2016 oil prices were sharply cut putting more money in the hands of people to import non-oil goods. Interest rates were also low, allowing credit fuelled purchases like car imports.

Vehicles imports, which rose 51 percent to 1,359 billion US dollars has slowed in January 2016, Siriwardene said.

Analysts expect more non-car imports after January as large volumes of money continues to be printed at weekly Treasuries auctions. Printed money drives imports beyond the net receipts of foreign currency from exports, remittances or foreign borrowings.

In 2015, textile and apparel exports fell 2.2 percent to 4.82 billion US dollars. Gem, diamond and jewellery exports fell 15 percent to 331 million dollars.

Rubber products fell 14 percent to 761 million US dollars. Prices of some items including apparel and rubber are down.

Tea exports were also down by 17 percent to 1.34 billion US dollars. But spice exports were up 42 percent to 377 million dollars.