Sri Lanka exports jump on EU, US demand for garments

COLOMBO, August 22, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s trade deficit narrowed substantially this year thanks to increased demand for clothing exports to the United States and Europe, the island’s central bank said Thursday. Sri Lanka’s economy recorded growth rates of over eight percent in the first two years after ending a decades-long separatist war in 2009, but since then expansion has slowed.

Foreign worker remittances also increased 10.6 percent to $3.36 billion over the same period last year, the bank said.

The International Monetary Fund noted last month that Sri Lanka was one of the fastest growing economies in South Asia, but the island was also vulnerable to sudden external shocks because of high levels of foreign commercial borrowings.

Sri Lanka’s foreign borrowings were $42.4 billion by the middle of this year, up from $39.7 billion at the end of last year. Exports jumped 16.8 percent to $5.44 billion in the first six months of calendar 2014 compared to the same period last year, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said.

Imports meanwhile declined 1.2 percent to $8.99 billion compared to the same period last year, the bank said.

Overall, the trade gap reduced from $4.44 billion in the first