ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s exports rose 9.8 percent to $1.04 billion in March 2017 from a year ago, reversing a two-month fall, crossing a billion dollars for the first time in two years, but the trade gap widened.
“The deficit in the trade balance widened substantially to $828 million in March 2017 from $617 million in March 2016,” it said.
The cumulative trade deficit during the first three months of 2017 increased substantially to $2,505 million from $1,855 million in the same period of 2016.
“Earnings from exports passed the $1 billion mark in March 2017 for the first time since March 2015,” the Central Bank said. “This increase was mainly led by agricultural exports, followed by industrial exports.”
Earnings from agricultural exports grew for the fourth consecutive month, up 28.3 percent, to $257 million in March 2017, it said. “An improved export performance recorded in tea, seafood and spices contributed largely to growth in agricultural exports.”
In spite of the decline in volume exported, earnings from tea exports increased 18.6 percent, in value terms, due to a 22.9 percent (year-on-year) increase in prices.
Earnings from seafood exports increased 75.2 percent year-on-year in March 2017, reflecting a substantial increase in seafood exports to the EU market, following the removal of the fisheries ban, the Central Bank said.
Earnings from industrial exports, which represents about 75 percent of total exports, grew 4.7 percent year-on-year to $779 million in March 2017 led by higher earnings from textile and garment exports.
Spending on imports increased 19.4 percent to $1,869 million in March 2017, the highest import growth (year-on-year) during a month since October 2014.
Expenditure incurred on imports of intermediate goods increased in March 2017 by 32.6 percent (year-on-year) to $948 million led by fuel imports.
Import expenditure on fuel increased 51.4 percent to $245 million driven by higher expenditure on refined petroleum and coal imports to fulfil increased demand for thermal and coal based power generation.
(COLOMBO, June 06, 2017)