Sri Lanka exports fall in January, trade gap up

SLPMA President Sanjaya Jayaratne

Mar 26, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s exports fell 0.6 percent to 917.7 million US dollars in January 2012 from a year earlier with a sharp drop in tea, while industrial exports grew at a sluggish 3.3 percent, while imports powered ahead, official data showed. Exports

Last year, Sri Lanka’s exports grew 22.4 percent.

Sri Lanka’s central bank said tea exports fell 19.1 percent to 104 million US dollars in January due to uncertainties in importing countries. The Middle East is a key importer of Sri Lankan tea.

Agricultural exports fell 13.9 percent to 181.5 million rupees. The central bank said, spices and vegetable exports also fell but tobacco and seafood shipments rose.

Raw rubber exports also fell due to domestic manufacturing. Rubber product exports rose 20 percent to 78.2 million US dollars. Coconut exports rose in with higher production, helped by fertilizer subsidies, the central bank said.

The state gives fertilizer subsidies to coconut growers, from peoples’ tax money.

Critics say Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector has been transformed into a giant income redistribution scheme by post-independent rulers, sometimes backed by trade protection to promote unsustainable high-cost, low quality ‘domestic production’.