May 26, Colombo: Sri Lanka's trade deficit in March 2014 narrowed by 15.5 percent as earnings from exports substantially increased during the month, the Central Bank said Monday releasing the External Sector Performance review.
Earnings from exports in March 2014 increased significantly on a year-on-year (YoY) basis by 28.6 percent to US$ 1.07 billion, while expenditure on imports grew by 8.2 percent to US$ 1.672 billion.
The cumulative trade deficit for the first three months of 2014 contracted by 13.5 percent, as the growth in export earnings of 19.1 percent outpaced the 3.6 percent increase in import expenditure.
In the first three months of 2014 export earnings increased to US$2.81 billion while expenditure on imports amounted to US$ 4.67 billion.
Improved performance in agricultural exports, followed by industrial exports, led the significant growth in exports during the month of March.
Earnings from agricultural exports increased 22.4 percent in March to US$ 256.7 million, out of which tea exports increased by 20.3 percent and amounted to US$ 155.3 million.
Earnings from industrial exports, which account for more than three fourths of total export earnings increased by 25.7 percent, year-on-year, to US$ 778.5 million in March 2014, reflecting an increase in earnings from export of textiles and garments by 32.6 percent to US$ 456.7million.
Expenses on fuel imports increased 19.1 percent to US$ 457.6 million in March compared to same month in 2013.
Long term loans obtained by the government during the first quarter of 2014 amounted to US$ 657.3 million, compared to US$ 443.4 million recorded during the corresponding period in 2013.
During the month Workers' Remittances grew by 18.5 percent to US$ 605.9 million and earnings from tourism increased 26.2 percent to US$ 192.2 million.
By the end of March 2014, Sri Lanka's gross official reserves amounted to US$ 8.1 billion, while total international reserves, which include foreign assets of commercial banks, amounted to US$ 9.5 billion.
The rupee has remained relatively stable against the US dollar marginally appreciating by 0.31 per cent during the year up to 23 May, the Central Bank said.