Sri Lanka’s December trade deficit widened 39.8 percent year-on-year (YoY) to US $ 787.6 million amid a surge in consumer and investment goods imports, the data released by the Central Bank showed.
The trade deficit in 2014 widened 9.1 percent YoY to US $ 8.29 billon, with imports expenditure growing at a higher pace of 7.9 percent YoY to US $ 19.4 billion, against an export growth of 7 percent YoY to US $ 11.1 billion.Export earnings in December grew only 2.2 percent YoY to US $ 1 billion with textile and garment exports, which accounted for over 45 percent of total exports, edging down 0.6 percent YoY to US $ 451.1 million.
According to the Central Bank, the decline is resulted by a drop in apparel exports to the EU by 13.8 percent, despite the 11.5 percent increase to the USA.
However, the cumulative earnings from apparel exports in 2014 rose 9.4 percent YoY to US $ 4.92 billion.Tea exports, which accounted for more than half of the agricultural exports, fell 5.8 percent YoY to US $ 139.8 million. The cumulative tea exports rose 5.6 percent YoY to US $ 1.62 billion.
Seafood exports in December also fell 5.8 percent YoY to US $ 21.8 million. The government is currently working on to lift a ban imposed on Lankan fish exports to the EU. The import expenditure in December rose 15.9 percent YoY to US $ 1.79 billion with consumer and investment goods imports spiking 39.7 percent YoY to US $ 422.1 million and 40.6 percent YoY to US $ 437.1 million, respectively.The growth in consumer goods was led by non-food consumer goods imports— specifically vehicle imports, which rocketed 126 percent YoY to US $ 111.5 million.
Cumulative expenditure on vehicle imports in 2014 rose 54 percent YoY to US $ 896.7 million.The transport equipment imports in December also surged 170.5 percent YoY to US $ 101.4 million.The December oil bill fell 43.6 percent YoY to US $ 255.9 million. The cumulative oil bill for 2014 was US $ 4.59 billion, up 6.7 billion.Import expenditure on textile and textile articles in December rose 29.7 percent YoY to US $ 225.8 million.Machinery and equipment imports rose 25.4 percent YoY to US $ 207.1 million and building materials rose 18.1 percent YoY to US $ 127.4 million.
For the year 2014, t he Balance of Payment (BoP) is estimated t o have recorded a surplus of US $ 1.37 billion compared to the surplus of US $ 985.4 million in 2013, the Central Bank said.Workers’ remittances topped US $ 7 billion in 2014 with the highest ever monthly inflow of workers’ remittances of US $ 708.8 million being recorded in December 2014 compared to US $ 602.8 million in December 2013.Inflows to the Colombo Stock Exchange in 2014 fell to US $ 162.6 million against US $ 269.9 million in 2013.Earnings from tourism grew 28.6 percent YoY to US $ 2.2 billion in 2014.