Sri Lanka trade gap widens 34-pct in March

June 07, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s trade gap has widened 34.1 percent to 827.5 million US dollars in March from a year earlier, official data from the Central Bank showed.

The cumulative trade deficit in the first quarter of 2017 has increased 35 percent to 2,505 million dollars from the same period last year.

Exports rose 9.8 percent to 1,042 million dollars in March, while imports grew at a faster 19.4 percent to 1,869 million dollars from a year earlier.

Export earnings passed the 1 billion dollar mark in March for the first time since March 2015, led by agricultural exports followed by industrial exports.

Agricultural exports grew for the fourth consecutive month, registering an increase of 28.3 percent, to 257 million dollars in March.

Seafood exports have also increased by 75.2 percent reflecting a substantial increase in seafood exports to the EU market, following the removal of the fisheries ban.

Earnings from industrial exports, which represent about 75 percent of total exports, grew 4.7 percent to 779 million dollars led by higher earnings from textile and garment exports.

Export earnings from textiles and garments increased by 2.6 percent to 453 million dollars in March, reflecting increased demand from the EU market.

Expenditure on imports increased by 19.4 percent in March and this was the highest import growth recorded during a month, since October 2014.

The largest contribution (76.9%) to the overall growth was from intermediate goods, followed by consumer goods (15.9%) and investment goods (6.4%).

Expenditure incurred on imports of intermediate goods increased in March by
32.6 percent to 948 million dollars, led by fuel imports.

Consumer goods imports have increased by 11.5 percent to 468 million dollars driven by the increase in imports of food and beverages such as rice, dairy products and fruits.