February 2011 economic data, issued recently by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), shows exports rose to US$ 860.3 million, up 36.8% year-on-year, while imports were also up to US$ 1.2 billion, an increase of 27.0% year-on-year. Meanwhile, exports mainly comprised of textiles and garments, petroleum and rubber while imports chiefly encompassed motor vehicles, petroleum, textiles and garments and machinery and equipment. There was also an increase in workers' remittances to US$ 393 million, up 26.8% from the same period last year.
Overall, the trade deficit for the month was US$ 376.0 million, a year-on-year rise of 9.1%. While, according to the CBSL, "gross official reserves continued to remain above the targeted level and stood at US$ 7.0 billion by end March 2011 without Asian learing Union (ACU) balances. Based on the previous 12-month average expenditure on imports of US$ 1.2 billion per month, the gross official reserves without ACU balances were equivalent to 5.8 months of imports."
Said the CBSL; "The industrial sector continued to make the largest contribution to the increase in exports, reflecting higher earnings from garments exports, of which the EU and USA accounted for 54.8% and 35.1%, respectively. Exports of petroleum products increased by 274.7% reflecting higher volumes and prices, compared to February 2010. Earnings from exports of rubber products increased by 70.4%, year-on-year, reflecting high levels of domestic value addition amidst higher demand in the international market. While earnings from exports of machinery and equipment increased, those from food, beverages and tobacco and diamond and jewellery declined.
Earnings from agricultural exports grew in February 2011, mainly due to the higher prices that prevailed in the international market. The average export prices of tea and rubber remained high at US dollars 4.68 per kg and US dollars 5.35 per kg, respectively. However, rubber export volumes remained low at 4.9 million kg mainly due to tighter supply as well as the increased demand from the domestic industries for the manufacture of rubber based products. Earnings from minor agricultural exports increased by 16.2% to US$ 31 million in February, 2011 led by the high prices of cocoa products, essential oils and unmanufactured tobacco."
At the same time; "Expenditure on imports of intermediate goods increased in February 2011 led by higher petroleum prices amidst geopolitical uncertainties. The average import price of crude oil increased by 31.9% to US$ 103.18 per barrel in February 2011. Expenditure on fertiliser and textile imports also increased in February 2011. Expenditure on imports of consumer goods increased in February 2011 led by non-food consumer goods, particularly, motor vehicles and electrical equipment. Import expenditure on food and drink decreased in February 2011 due to the lower import volumes of rice, sugar and wheat. Investment goods imports increased in February 2011 reflecting increases in the machinery and transport equipment categories."