Sri Lanka imports, trade gap, expand as credit picks up
COLOMBO, Nov 15, 2014 (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s imports rose 12.2 percent to 1.66 billion US dollars in September 2014 from a year earlier, despite lower fuel imports as private credit picked up sharply in August, official data shows.
The Central Bank said imports of consumer goods rose 56 percent to 365 million US dollars with vehicles up 88 percent to 97 million rupees.
Dairy products rose to 26.7 million US dollars from 13.9 million US dollars and other foods and beverages up 76 percent to 125 million rupees.
Intermediate goods fell 5.1 percent to 870 million dollars with fuel imports plunging 24 percent to 295 million rupees. Textiles and related items which feed Sri Lanka’s apparel exports were up 14.4 percent to 199.1 million rupees.
Investment goods rose 27.9 percent to 428 million US dollars with building materials up 9.4 percent to 111.3 million US dollars and machinery and equipment imports fell 10 percent to 177 million US dollars.
Transport equipment up 290 percent to 140 million dollars.
Sri Lanka’s import growth has been sluggish since the end of a balance of payments crisis in 2011/2012 precipitated by credit funded energy subsidies ended with a burst credit bubble.
But a credit contraction had shown signs of ending. In August private credit grew 47 billion rupees (about 300 million US dollars), which would result in higher imports in the ensuing months.
Exports rose 5 percent to 903.3 million US dollars with industrial exports up 3.4 percent to 667.9 million US dollars.
Textiles and garment exports rose 4.4 percent to 403 million US dollars in September from a year earlier.
Agricultural exports fell 2.9 percent to 231.9 million US dollars with tea falling 4.8 percent to 133.6 million US dollars.
With the US Fed ending it dangerous money printing exercise commodity prices, including oil and food have fallen helping the poorest of the poor in the world.
Some analysts expect the farming lobby to pressure rulers in many countries to keep prices up as the commodity price cycle gathers pace as they did in the 1980s period of ‘Great Moderation’.