July 18, 2008 LBO) – Sri Lanka’s trade gap had expanded 79 percent to 2.5 billion US dollars in the five months to May 2008 on higher imports of oil while industrial exports slowed, government data showed. The Central Bank said 58 percent of the increase in imports came from oil and 21 percent from food.
Meanwhile, the overall balance of payments of the country was a surplus of 292 million US dollars by end-May. Foreign reserves were 3,355 billion dollars, which was equal to 3.2 months of imports. In the five months to May imports rose 34.9 percent to 5.9 billion dollars, while exports grew 12.6 percent to 3.2 billion rupees, the Central Bank said.
In the month of May exports grew 17 percent to 745.9 million US dollars, and imports 24.2 percent to 1,258 million US dollars, expanding the trade deficit by 36.4 percent to 512.2 million US dollars.
Industrial exports grew at 7.6 percent with the key apparel exports growing at only 3.8 percent.
But revenues from agricultural exports increased 34.9 percent to 728 million US dollar with tea alone jumping 42.6 percent to 507.1 million dollars amidst a global commodity bubble.
In May tea revenues grew 30 percent to 9