Export earnings increase in March
Earnings from exports increased by 7.8 per cent, year-on-year, to US
dollars 680 million. Agricultural exports, which grew by 29.1 per cent,
year-on-year, largely contributed to this growth, with earnings from
both tea and minor agricultural products increasing significantly in
March 2008, the Central Bank said. Industrial exports increased by 3.0
per cent, year-on-year, along with an 8.2 per cent growth in exports of
textiles and garments.
Apart from textiles and garments, rubber products; and machinery and
equipment, were among the other industrial exports, which have
contributed significantly to the growth in exports in March 2008.
Cumulative exports during January-March 2008 amounted to US dollars
1,878 million, having increased by 10.2 per cent, year-on-year.
Expenditure on imports recorded an increase of 32.5 per cent,
year-on-year, in March 2008, and amounted to US dollars 1,130 million.
Imports of consumer goods grew by 37.1 per cent, year-on-year, with
large increases being recorded in respect of several categories of food
imports, namely, rice, milk products and wheat.
The surge in the price of petroleum, which increased by 70 per cent
to US dollars 100.6 per barrel, led the expenditure on petroleum to
contribute more than half of the growth of imports in March 2008.
Imports of investment goods increased by 6.2 per cent, year-on-year,
in March 2008, primarily driven by an increase in the import of building
materials. Cumulative imports during January-March 2008 amounted to US
dollars 3,265 million, which is an increase of 37.6 per cent from the
corresponding period last year.
The developments in external trade resulted in the deficit in the
trade balance widening from US dollars 222 million in March 2007 to US
dollars 449 million in March 2008. The cumulative deficit in the trade
balance for January-March 2008 was US dollars 1,386 million, compared to
US dollars 669 million for the corresponding period last year.
However, the negative impact of the trade deficit on the current
account was mitigated by worker remittances, which amounted to US
dollars 752 million for the quarter ending March 2008.
The overall balance of payments recorded a surplus of US dollars 416
million for the period January-March 2008, resulting in the gross
official reserves increasing to US dollars 3,518.6 million by end March
2008, which is sufficient to finance around 3.5 months of imports.