The first quarter exports fared well, despite unfavorable global conditions which continued from 2016 and with the global positive economic forecasts there are signs of further recovery during 2017, the Export Development Boardâ€™s Policy & Strategic Planning Division said.
The export related industries are expected to have better times ahead, as Sri Lanka has regained the EU GSP+ status and with the United Kingdom affirming that it would continue to extend this facility to Sri Lanka despite its decision to leave the EU. Seafood exporters too are expected to see increased volumes in the coming months, with the reinstatement of the EU GSP + concessions.
The export performance of Sri Lanka remains stable compared to other the regional competitors such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, where five year export growth was negative, while Sri Lankaâ€™s performance has been positive with a five year average growth of 10%.
Merchandise exports from Sri Lanka during the period January to March 2017 was valued at US$ 2.7 billion reporting a growth of 2% when compared to the same period in 2016 according to customs provisional export statistics for the first quarter of 2017. Export values of essential oils showed the highest growth of 41%, followed by electronic, electrical and machinery products and parts.
Spice exports showed a growth of 39% and exports of fruits, ornamental fish and seafood grew by 27%, 22% and 17% respectively. The Combined value of these sectors was US$ 258 million.
Tea, coconut, rubber and rubber based sectors with a combined value of 701 US$ million grew only by 7% while the apparel sector, the highest export revenue contributor to the economy, performed negatively, with a total value of US $ 1,274 million during the period under review, a decrease of US $ 90 million.
The US continued to be the leading export destination with a share of over 25%. Shares of India, Italy, Singapore, UAE, China, Russian Federation, Canada, Australia and Turkey increased during January to March 2017 when compared to 2016. The exports of cloves too increased significantly in 2017.
Products such as electronic, electrical and machinery products, parts were exported to variety of markets such as Ghana, UAE, Cyprus, Thailand, Germany and United Kingdom, in smaller values.
Under the category coconut and coconut products, items such as coconut oil, activated carbon, liquid coconut milk and coconut cream exports have been made to markets such as the United States, Germany, China and Pakistan.