Sri Lanka’s export performance continued its upward momentum in the first three months of 2021. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic induced lockdown last year, exports were contracted by a record 64.63 per cent in April 2020. However in April this year, exports grew up by 183 per cent to US$ 798.9 Mn in comparison to the previous year.
This growth could be attributed to the gradual lifting of Covid 19 restrictions imposed within the country and globally. It must be noted that the year-on-year growth in April 2021 was largely due to the negative growth a year ago.
The Export Development Board (EDB) Chairman Suresh de Mel said, “in comparison to the lowest point in April 2020, exports are up by 183% in April 2021. We thank the entire export community for serving the national economic needs at this vulnerable time. The EDB staff and I stand committed to help our exporters through this crisis in the best way possible”.
Graph I: Monthly Merchandise Export Performance 2019, 2020 & Jan-April 2021
Sources: Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Customs & Sri Lanka Export Development Board
Export Performance of Major Sectors
As shown in the table below, earnings from the export of major product sectors such as Apparel, Tea, Rubber based Products, Coconut based, Spices and Electrical & Electronic Components were increased both in the month of April 2021 and during the period of January to April 2021 compared to the previous year.
Export earnings from Spices and Essential Oils in April 2021, increased significantly compared to April 2020 - growth is mainly due to increased exports of cinnamon, pepper and cloves. The significant increase of 115.4 % recorded in the period of January to April 2021 compared to year 2020 – is an increase beyond the corresponding period of 2019 too.
Export earnings of tea increased y.o.y. in April 2021 by 1.14 % compared to April 2020. First four months comparison records at 19.79 % increase - The higher performance is due to demand growth of UAE, China and Libyan markets.
Earnings from all the major categories of Coconut based products increased by 100 % in April 2021 compared with April 2020 due to the improved performance in export of Coconut Oil, Liquid Coconut Milk, Cocopeat & Activated Carbon. Similarly, earnings from the export of all the major categories of Coconut based products increased by 51.99 % during the period of January to April 2021 compared to the corresponding period of 2020.
Export earnings from Rubber & Rubber finished products increased by 151.22 % y-o-y to US$ 64.74 Mn in April 2021 due to the better performance of exports of Industrial & Surgical Gloves of Rubber (188.87%) and Pneumatic & Retreated Rubber Tyres & Tubes (172.72%). In parallel Export earnings from Rubber & Rubber finished products increased by 45.47 % during the period of January to April 2021 compared to the 2020.
Meanwhile earnings from export of Electrical and Electronic Components (EEC) increased by 186.05 % to US$ 27.06 Mn in April 2021 in comparison to April 2020. Also, earnings from export of EEC increased by 41.21% to US$ 129.09 Mn in the period of January to April 2021 compared to the corresponding period of 2020. Export of Insulated wires increased by 148.81 % in y-o-y to US$ 4.18 Mn in April 2021 also increased by 34.04 % during the period of January to April 2021 to US$ 22.17 Mn compared with the corresponding period of previous year.
Sri Lanka’s Trade Performance in Major Markets
The single largest export destination of United States of America recorded US$ 920.6 Mn worth of exports in the period of January to April 2021– a significant year on year increase of 21.2 % in comparison to US$ 759.58 Mn recorded in 2020.
Exports to United Kingdom as the second largest trading partner recorded an increase of 16% to US$ 294.23 Mn during the period of January to April 2021 compared with the corresponding period of previous year.
Further, Exports to China and Netherlands increased y-o-y by 77.79 % and 222.77% in April 2021 while the increase of the same markets improved by 64.89 % and 88.53 % respectively during the period of January to April 2021.
Strong performance made by Apparel and Liquid Coconut Milk exports has resulted to the increased Exports to Netherlands and better performance of export of Bulk tea, Mineral Sands, Activated Carbon and Cocopeat has resulted increased exports to China.
On a region wise comparison exports to all other regions increased except ASEAN during the period of January to April 2021 compared with the corresponding period of the previous year.
Export of Services
The services exports estimated by EDB which includes ICT/BPM, Construction, Financial services and Transport & Logistics show exports of US $ 1,194.3 Mn for the period of January to April 2021 compared to US$ 1,021.9 Mn recorded in the corresponding period of 2020. Estimated service exports increased by 16.87 % in the first four months of 2021 compared to the corresponding period of 2020.