Feb 19, Colombo: Sri Lanka's cumulative deficit in the trade balance increased to US dollars 5.871 billion during the year 2008, compared to the deficit of US dollars 3.656 billion recorded in the previous year, the Central Bank reported today.
Sri Lanka cumulative exports earnings during 2008 recorded a growth of 6.5 percent, amounting to US$ 8.137 billion despite declining in the month of December,
Exports earning fell sharply by 19.1 percent in December 2008 to US$ 681 million compared to the same month in 2007, although the value was the highest since September.
The decline in commodity prices due to the global economic meltdown has affected the performance of agricultural and industrial exports although the trade volumes of some agricultural exports, such as rubber and coconut, increased in December, despite the lower prices.
Earnings from tea exports in December fell 22.5 percent mainly due to price reductions in the international market, although prices at the Colombo Auction remained higher than most other auction centers around the world, the Central Bank noted.
Cumulative expenditure on imports during 2008 increased by 24.0 percent to a total of US$ 14.008 billion despite a decline in import expenditure by 9.7 percent in December for the second consecutive month.
Central Bank reported that the total reserves of US$ 3.799 billion with and US$ 2.992 billion without Asian Clearing Union (ACU) funds by end of 2008 are equivalent to 3.3 and 2.6 months of imports, respectively.
The Bank however, expects the low import growth witnessed during the last two months to prevail throughout a greater part of 2009.