Sri Lanka’s export performance in 2019

Feb 20, 2020 (LBO) – Total exports of the country recorded US$ 16.14 Bn in 2019, which comprised of US$ 11.94 Bn Merchandise exports and USD 4.2 Bn of Service exports. The Service exports include `ICT/BPM, Construction, Financial Services and Transport Services include an estimated figure for the last quarter of the year. Export value increased marginally by 1.44% (US$ 229Mn) in 2019 compared with 2018.

The total value of merchandise exports of the year which stood at 11.94 Bn shows a mere increase of US$ 50 Mn, whereby the total figure being US$ 11.89 Bn in 2018. Based on an analysis done of the major sub-sector contribution to the total exports it is noted that only two products namely Apparel(US$ 5,596Mn) and Tea(US$ 1,346Mn) contributed with billion figures to the export basket- In addition to the Apparel and Tea sectors, the other main sectors that contributed to this total exports for year 2019 are Rubber & Rubber based products( US$ 890 Mn), Coconut and Coconut based products (US$ 614 Mn)and the Engineering Products (US$ 589 Mn)[which included Electrical & Electronic & Machinery products and the Boat Building sectors ] who recorded over USD$500 Mn mark. The contribution from the top 10 product sectors to the total exports is over 90%, whilst all other subsectors accounted for around 10% in terms of value.

Over a period of four years from 2016 to 2019, the export growth rate of the sectors has recorded increased trends depicting a positive growth rate. The analysis also showed an equal number is on a declining trend with a negative growth rate. The sectors that recorded a positive growth rate in 2019 were Apparel; Coconut based products, Diamonds/Gems & Jewelry, Ornamental fish, Vegetables, Fruits and Cut Flowers & foliage. The sectors that showed a decreasing growth rate were in the exports of Tea and Spices.

United States of America was the top export destination with US$ 3,139 mn ( 26% share of merchandise exports followed by the United Kingdom – US$ 998 mn, India – US$ 759 mn, Italy – US$ 531 mn, Belgium – US$ 352 mn. Both the USA and German markets showed continuous growth over the past five years. Apparel was the key export to the USA, whilst the key exports to Germany were Apparel and Solid Tires. However, due to the decrease in exports of Apparel to the UK and Italy and the decrease of exports of Pepper and copper wires to India exports to these markets showed a decline.

It is a notable feature to see steady growth in the Service sector while marginal growth is seen in the Merchandise sector exports in 2019 as stated by Prabhash Subasinghe, Chairman, Sri Lanka Export Development Board.