ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s export earnings rose 16% to US$941 million in November 2017 from a year ago, partly driven by the low base in November 2016, the central bank said.
Spending on imports rose 12% to $1.9 billion over the same period with the trade deficit widening to almost a billion dollars from $922 million the previous year mainly because of higher expenditure on fuel imports.
“Although a double-digit growth in exports has been recorded, partly driven by the low base recorded in November 2016, the trade deficit expanded considerably during the month with higher imports,” a statement said.
In the 11 months to November 2017 exports were up 9.4% to 10.3 billion while imports rose 9% to $18.9 billion with the trade gap widening to $8.6 billion.
“Exports continued to record a double-digit growth for the fifth consecutive month in November 2017,” the central bank said.
“However, this growth was partly driven by the low base recorded in November 2016. Earnings from textiles and garments exports contributed largely for this growth.”
Export earnings from garments increased for the fifth consecutive month in November 2017 with increased demand from the EU and the USA and non-traditional markets such as Australia, Hong Kong and UAE.
Following the restoration of the GSP+ facility, earnings from garment exports to the EU continued to expand, and in November 2017 grew by 13.8 per cent (year-on-year), while garment exports to the USA increased by 11.9 per cent, the statement said.
Earnings from the exports of petroleum products increased notably owing to higher export volumes and export prices of bunker and aviation fuel.
Reflecting higher earnings from rubber tyres and surgical and other gloves, earnings from rubber products increased during the month.
Earnings from agricultural exports increased further in November 2017 mainly due to the notable growth recorded in tea exports in view of increase in the average tea export prices and volumes, the central bank said.
Expenditure on imports were the highest since November 2011.
“This was due to high expenditure incurred for fuel imports as a result of significant increase in crude oil and refined petroleum products on account of the combined effect of higher prices in the international market and increased import volumes.”
Import expenditure on wheat and maize increased significantly mainly due to the base effect.
(COLOMBO, January 30, 2018)