Sri Lanka's export income during the month of January fell marginally to 0.6 percent year-on-year to US$918 million, while expenditure on imports rose 20.1 percent to US$1,883 million, the Central Bank said yesterday.
Accordingly, the trade gap widened 49.7 percent year-on-year to US$965.5 million. The Central Bank attributed the decline in export earnings largely to agricultural exports, while high import expenditure on oil imports.
Industrial exports, which contribute about 80 percent to the total exports, grew by 3.3 percent to US$733 million in January 2012.
Within industrial exports, textiles and garments remained the major contributor recording a growth of 1.6 percent to US$367 million.
Earnings from agricultural exports declined in January 2012, as a result of lower performance recorded in traditional agricultural exports of tea and rubber.
Earnings from tea exports declined by 19.1 percent year-on-year to US$104 million, mainly due to geopolitical uncertainties in the major tea importing destinations.
Import expenditure on petroleum products rose 18.9 percent year-on-year to US$483.6 million. Expenditure on investment goods such as machinery and building materials rose 72.4 percent to US$523.3 million.
Expenditure on consumer goods increased 3 percent year-on-year to US$287.7 million.
However, import expenditure on food and beverages declined with the lower prices of major imported food items such as sugar, lentils, onions and potatoes in the international market.
“Increased duty rates and the introduction of Special Commodity Levy (SCL) on new categories of food and beverages in Budget 2012 also contributed to reduce the expenditure on food imports,” the Central Bank said.
The workers’ remittances during the month increased 25.4 percent year-on-year to US$377 million, despite the uncertainties in the Middle East region.
During the month, inflows to the government also saw a 60.9 percent increase year-on-year to US$296 million.
By end January 2012, gross official reserves, excluding Asian Clearing Union (ACU) balances, stood at US$5,806 million, while total external reserves, which include gross official reserves and foreign assets of commercial banks, amounted to US$6,973 million.
“In terms of months of imports, gross official reserves and total external reserves by end January 2012 were equivalent to 3.4 months and 4.1 months, respectively,” the Central Bank said.