Sri Lanka’s export earnings increased marginally by 0.6 percent year-on-year to US $ 910 million in January with expenditure on imports rising at a faster pace of 1.6 percent yoy to US $.1.68 billion, data released by the Central Bank showed.
The trade deficit widened to US $ 772 million in comparison to US $ 752 million in January 2014.
Earnings from industrial exports edged up 0.9 percent yoy to US $ 703.8 million, supported by higher petroleum exports compared to previous year.
However the main apparel exports fell 0.5 percent yoy to US $ 409.9 million. Rubber products exports also fell 13.3 percent yoy to US $ 64.2 million.
Earnings from tea exports also fell 2.2 percent yoy to US $ 113.5 million. However, a 73.8 percent sharp pick up was seen in spice exports.
Meanwhile, the moderate growth in imports in January was mainly due to a drop in intermediate goods, led by significantly lower fuel imports.
Accordingly, the oil bill fell 41.1 percent yoy to US $ 289.2 million.
The consumer goods imports rose 56.7 percent yoy to US $ 397.3 million, led by rice and vehicle imports, which rose 115.8 percent yoy to US $ 99.5 million and over 3000 percent yoy to US $ 55 million.
Expenditure on investment goods was led by import of machinery & equipment and transport equipment which rose from US $ 196.6 million to US $ 240.6 million and from US $ 47.2 million to US $ 91.1 million, respectively.
The external sector is projected to strengthen further during the year with the expected reduction in expenditure on imports, higher inflows on account of tourism and worker’s remittances as well as receipts to the government, the banking sector and other private corporates.
Earnings from tourism are estimated to have increased by 6.6 percent to US $ 248.7 million in January 2015 from US $ 233.3 million in
However worker’s remittances in January fell 5.8 percent yoy to US $ 523.5 million.
Long term loans obtained by the government during January 2015 amounted to US $ 57.7 million, compared to US $112.2 million during the corresponding period in 2014.
The BOP is estimated to have recorded a deficit of US dollars 696.5 million, compared to the surplus of US $ 732.9 million in the corresponding period
Meanwhile, despite outflows on account of foreign currency debt service payments amounting to US $930 million (including IMF-SBA payments and contributing partly to settle the sovereign bond), the gross official reserves estimated to be US $ 7.4 billion as at end February 2015, which were equivalent to 4.5 months of imports.