Sri Lanka Sept trade gap widens to US$758mn, apparel, tea exports fall

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s trade deficit widened in September 2019 to 758 million U.S. dollars from 713 million dollars a year ago with apparel export earnings falling for the first time since July 2018 and tea, the main agricultural export, also down.

The central bank said spending on merchandise imports contracted for the eleventh consecutive month with a 3.3 percent decline in September 2019 to 1,711 million dollars from a year ago driven by lower consumer goods and intermediate goods imports

Exports fell 9.8 percent to 952 million dollars in September 2019 from the year before, it said in a statement.

“The trade deficit widened in September 2019 (year-on-year), with the decline in earnings from exports exceeding the decline in expenditure on imports,” it said.

“Nevertheless, the trade deficit remained significantly low in the first nine months of 2019 over the same period of last year, as a result of increased cumulative earnings from exports and a sharp decline in cumulative expenditure on imports.”

On a cumulative basis, the trade deficit contracted by 2,341 million dollars to 5,613 million dollars during the first nine months of 2019 in comparison to 7, 953 million dollars in the same 2018 period.

Earnings from textiles and garments fell for the first time since July 2018 on a year-on-year basis, led by a notable decline of 13.9 percent of garment exports to the USA owing to the base effect despite a 3.2 percent growth in exports to the EU market, the central bank said.

Spending on merchandise imports contracted for the eleventh consecutive month with a 3.3 percent decline in September 2019 to 1,711 million dollars from the previous year, driven by lower consumer goods and intermediate goods imports.

Spending on personal motor vehicles fell in September 2019 from a year ago.

However, the statement said, in absolute terms motor vehicle imports remained at a relatively high level since July 2019 compared to imports during December 2018 through June 2019 reflecting mainly the impact of personal motor vehicle imports under concessionary permits.
(COLOMBO, 15 November 2019)