Sri Lanka’s exports grow but trade deficit widens

March 15 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s exports grew by 11.2 percent in January led by industrial exports which surged 15.6 percent, the Central Bank said Friday. Tea exports were hit by production shortfalls following the strikes in December, but apparel exports surged 28.1 percent to 221 million dollars.

“However, within the agricultural sector, the increase in rubber and other agricultural exports were more than sufficient to offset the reduction in the export earnings from tea,” the Central Bank said in a statement.

Imports grew by 15.8 percent to 788 million dollars, widening the trade deficit to 298 million dollars in January 2007 from 240 million a year before.

“Investment goods increased with the continuous expansion in construction and infrastructure projects in recent months,” the statement said.

“Consumer goods increased mainly due to higher imports of food items supported by lower tariff.”

The government cut tariffs in a range of food items in a bid to keep the consumer inflation index down, but it still moved up to an embarrassing 20.5 percent in January.

Crude imports had declined with the country’s refinery shut down