External Sector Performance – December 2022

*  Earnings from exports remained resilient during 2022 recording the highest ever exports,

while expenditure on imports declined significantly in 2022, compared to 2021.

*  Merchandise trade deficit recorded the lowest in 2022, since 2010.

*  Foreign investments in the government securities market and Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recorded a notable net inflow during 2022 compared to net outflow in 2021.

*  The recovery in earnings from tourism persisted in 2022 and marked a noticeable growth, although workers’ remittances moderated in 2022, compared to 2021.

Performance of Merchandise Trade in 2022

Earnings from exports in 2022 surpassed US dollars 13 billion per year for the first time, recording an increase of 4.9 per cent from the previous highest recorded in 2021. This improvement was a result of increased earnings from industrial exports, including garments, gems, diamonds and jewellery, machinery and mechanical appliances and petroleum products. Meanwhile, total import expenditure in 2022 amounted to US dollars 18,291 million, recording a decline of 11.4 per cent, year-on-year, resulted from measures to restrict non-urgent imports and liquidity constraints prevailed in the market for the most part of 2022. As a result, the deficit in the trade account in 2022 narrowed to the lowest level since 2010 to US dollars 5,185 million, from US dollars 8,139 million recorded in 2021.

The major contributory factors for the decline in the cumulative trade deficit in 2022 are shown in Merchandise Trade Balance The deficit in the merchandise trade account narrowed to US dollars 358 million in December 2022, from US dollars 1,085 million recorded in December 2021, helped by a larger decline in imports, compared to the decline in exports.

Performance of Merchandise Exports1 Overall exports:

Earnings from merchandise exports declined by 7.7 per cent in December 2022, over December 2021, to US dollars 1,068 million. The decline in earnings from industrial exports mainly contributed to the decline in export earnings in December 2022.

Industrial exports: Earnings from the export of industrial goods declined in December 2022, compared to December 2021, mainly due to the lower exports of garments resulted from reduced spending capacity associated with high inflation and recessionary concerns in most of the major markets (the USA, the EU and the UK). Similarly, earnings from rubber products continued to decline due to the lower exports of tires and household rubber gloves. Further, a sizable decline was recorded in the exports of food, beverages, and tobacco (mainly, manufactured tobacco), although earnings from gems, diamonds, and jewellery; and machinery and mechanical appliances (mainly, electronic equipment) increased.

Agricultural exports: Earnings from tea exports marginally declined with the higher average export prices of tea was offset by the decline in volume exported, resulted from the lag effect of the unavailability of adequate fertiliser. Earnings from the export of other agricultural goods declined in December 2022, compared to a year ago, resulted from lower export volumes of pepper, categorised under spices.

Mineral exports: Earnings from mineral exports increased in December 2022, compared to December 2021, mainly due to the increase in export of titanium ores.

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