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Sri Lanka抯 June trade deficit contracts 35.3%Monday, August 25, 2014 > 08:49:16
The ongoing export push by all sectors has supported the country’s external sector to continue narrowing its trade deficit, and in the month of June, the deficit contracted by as much as 35.3 percent to US $ 454 million but slowed from the previous month.
In May, the trade deficit narrowed by 47.9 percent year-on-year (YoY) to US $ 393.4 million.
The trade deficit for the six months ended June (1H’14) narrowed 20.1 percent to US $ 3.55 billion, driven by exports which grew by 16.8 percent YoY to Rs. 5.44 billion.
The imports during 1H’14 however edged down by only 1.2 percent YoY to US $ 8.99 billion.
The government projects to have at least US $ 20.0 billion exports by 2020 with a possible trade surplus also supported by import substitution industries.
In June, exports grew by 22.0 percent to Rs.807.6 million helped by textiles and garments which grew by as much as 25 percent to US $ 446.2 million while the imports declined 4.6 percent YoY to US $ 1.44 billion due to reduction in oil imports.
The government targets an export income of US $ 5.0 billion by 2016 from this sector. This is more than 50 percent of the export basket but authorities have been contemplating on diversifying the product portfolio over many years.
Meanwhile the exports to European Union and United States grew by 34.6 percent and 12.1 percent respectively and exports to non-traditional markets grew by 44.5 percent.
Rubber product exports was the second biggest contributor to total exports with US $ 77.0 million income in June, a growth of 11.1 percent from a year ago.
“Although the continued decline in the international price of raw rubber has had a negative effect on raw rubber exports, this has benefitted domestic manufacturers of rubber products and encouraged value added rubber exports,” a Central Bank (CB) statement said.
The declining rubber prices impacted raw rubber exports and the earnings declined by as much as 23.7 percent YoY in June.
Altogether industrial exports grew by 18.7 percent YoY to US $ 725 million in June.
Meanwhile earnings from tea exports grew by 31.5 percent YoY to US $ 153 million in June due to the impact of both 23.5 percent increase in tea export volumes and a 6.5 percent increase in the average export price of tea.
Export earnings from coconut more than doubled to US $ 32 million during the month.
Overall, agricultural exports grew by 33 percent YoY to US $ 256 million in June.
On imports in June, fuel imports declined 9.4 percent YoY to US $ 412.4 million. Furthermore, fertilizer imports declined by 54.5 percent YoY to US $ 14 million due to the drought weather conditions prevailing in the country and a substantial decline in international fertilizer prices due to a fall in natural gas prices.
Meanwhile import expenditure on wheat declined by 62 percent compared to the corresponding month of the previous year, owing to a sharp fall in international wheat prices, the CB said.
“Import expenditure on diamond, precious stones and metals also declined by 88.6 percent to US $ 5.6 million during June 2014, mainly due to the decline in gold and diamond imports,” the CB said.
Altogether intermediate goods imports which comprised the bulk of the import basket declined by 7.5 percent YoY to US $ 891 million in June.
Expenditure on consumer goods imports marginally grew by 1.2 percent YoY to US $ 277 million while the investment goods imports remained unchanged at US $ 270 million in the month of June 2014.