Aug 29, 2011 (LBO) – Eastern Merchants Plc, an exporter of commodities that claims top spot for natural rubber exports from Sri Lanka said its margins were eroded by rising working capital costs and export taxes despite steep commodity inflation. Eastern Merchants group, which exports rubber, coir fibre, cinnamon and brushes said revenues grew 53 percent to 6.0 billion rupees but gross profits shrank 18 percent to 174 million rupees.
Rubber prices had hit historic highs as the US dollar weakened against commodities and demand for natural rubber rose with synthetic rubber prices also rising.
An export tax on rubber which was originally 4.00 rupees had been increased to 8.00 rupees in November 2010 and then 12 rupees in March 11.
States try to impose such ‘windfall’ taxes when commodity prices rise and such taxes are sometimes imposed against oil and mining industries in particular.
The group exports cinnamon, desiccated coconut, coir and also has units making brushes and claims to be the largest exporter of natural rubber.
Erratic weather had disrupted supplies and coconut fibre supplies continued to be below demand.
“Furthermore, the high price of rubber demanded an ever-increasing amount of funding to fuel operat