Sri Lanka’s trade deficit ballooned in July as port strike hit exports

Sept 06 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s trade deficit expanded by more than 50 percent in the seven months to July, spurred by rapid import growth and falling exports, the Central Bank said.

In July exports fell by 7.9 percent to 516 million US dollars, after striking port workers interrupted exports, but oil imports which come through an offshore pipeline pushed up the import bill.

Central Bank said industrial exports fell 8.8 percent, but tea, rubber and coconut exports grew by 7.4 percent, keeping cumulative export growth at 6.1 percent.

In July imports grew by 19.7 percent to 862 million US dollars, with petroleum accounting for 24 percent. Without petroleum, import growth was 5.5 percent.

In the seven months to July imports grew by 20.2 percent to 5,818 million dollars, pushing up the trade deficit by 56 percent to 2,140 million dollars from 1372 million dollars.

Central Bank says the overall balance of payments continued to be a surplus of 168 million and official reserves stood at 2,523 million dollar which was equal to 3.1 months of imports.