Sri Lanka’s March trade deficit contracted 15.5 percent year-onyear (YoY) to US $ 602.2 million amid higher export earnings and moderate import expenditure, the latest data released by the Central Bank showed.
The trade gap for the first three months of 2014 also narrowed 13.5 YoY to US $ 1861.5 million with cumulative exports rising 19.1 percent YoY to US $ 2808.9 million and imports slowing down to 3.6 percent to US $ 4670.7 million.
March export earnings surged 28.6 percent YoY to US $ 1069.9 million, supported by positive earnings from all key categories.
Export earnings from agricultural products rose 22.4 percent YoY to US $ 256.7 million.
Tea export earnings rose 20.3 percentYoYto US $ 155.3 million.
Export earnings from industrial products rose 25.7 percentYoYto US $ 778.5 million. “Export earnings from transport equipment increased by more than six fold due to the export of ships, boats and floating structures,” the Central Bank said.
Earnings from apparel exports rose 32.6 percent YoY to US $ 456.7 million.
Income from rubber product exports rose 10.9 percent YoY to US $ 81 million as a result of higher tyre exports.
Value of mineral product exports rose to US $ 33.4 million from US $ 1.7 million.
Meanwhile, the total expenditure in March on exports increased 8.2 percentYoYto US $ 1672.1 million.
Expenditure on consumer goods imports rose 18.5 percent YoY to Rs.303 million. The expenditure on non-food consumer goods rose 27.3 percent YoY to US $ 170 million due to significant increases in vehicle imports by 59.3 percent and clothing and accessories imports by 56.6 percent.
Import expenditure on intermediate goods rose 12.7 percent YoY to US $ 1045.4 million, led by higher fuel and textiles and textile article imports.
The oil import bill rose 19.1 percent YoY to US $ 457.6 million, owing to higher usage of thermal power generation and an increase in petroleum prices in the international market compared to the corresponding period in the previous year.
Expenditure on textiles and textile articles increased 40 percent YoY to US $ 182.1 million.
Import expenditure on investment goods fell 10.5 percent to US $ 323.1 million as a result of less expenditure on importation of transport equipment and building materials.
Expenditure on transport equipment fell 17.4 percent YoY to US $ 41.9 million, while on building materials 24.2 percent YoY to US $ 101.5 million.
Import expenditure on machinery and equipment however edged up 2.2 percent YoY to US $ 179.3 million.
Meanwhile, earnings from tourism in March and April 2014 increased by 26.2 percent and 49.8 percent, YoY, to US $ 192.2 million and US $ 162.7 million, respectively.
Workers’ remittances fell to US $ 605.9 million from US $ 511.4 million in March 2013. However, for the first quarter, workers’ remittances rose 12.2 percent YoY to US $ 1663.4 million.