Colombo, March 27 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s external trade in 2012 has begun with a nearly $1 billion trade deficit due to a mixed performance with subdued exports and high imports, the Central Bank said here Tuesday.
Exports in January were down by $5 million or 0.6 percent to $918 million in comparison to a year earlier whilst imports grew by 20 percent to $1.88 billion triggering a deficit of $965.5 million, reported Xinhua.
The deficit saw an increase of 50 percent when compared with January 2011, Central Bank data said.
Agriculture exports saw a dip of 14 percent to $181.5 million in January. Tea exports, Sri Lanka’s highest foreign exchange earning crop, dipped by 20 percent to plunge to $104 million.
Sri Lanka’s top foreign exchange earner, apparel, had managed to grow by 1.6 percent to $366.6 million whilst overall industrial exports which contribute about 80 percent to the total exports improved by 3.3 percent to $732.6 million.
Sri Lanka has been struggling to reduce its trade deficit with the Central Bank working on increasing inflows to stabilize a fast depreciating rupee, which is also hurting exports. The currency depreciated by 14 percent in February before hitting a new low of 131 against the dollar.