Sri Lanka’s expenditure on fuel imports in the month of March 2015 has seen a sharp decline by 66% leading to a contraction in total expenditure on imports comparative to the previous year, the first such decline since July 2014, recent statistics showed. Accordingly expenditure on fuel imports in March 2015 decreased to a mere US$ 155.5 million in March 2015 compared to US$457.6 million in March 2014 while expenditure on fuel imports during the first three months of this year contracted by 51% to US$709 million compared to US$1.45 billion YoY.
“Non-importation of crude oil during the month and record low level of refined petroleum product prices in the international market caused for this substantial decline in the expenditure on fuel imports,” the Central Bank said releasing its External Sector Performance data for March 2015.
In the month of March, earnings from exports declined marginally by 0.9 percent, year-on-year, to US dollars 1,060 million in March 2015 from US dollars 1,070 million recorded in March 2014 while expenditure on imports declined by 5.5 percent, year-on-year, to US dollars 1,581 million in March 2015. Consequently, the trade deficit in March 2015 has contracted by 13.5 percent, year on year, following eight consecutive expansions recorded from July 2014. In cumulative basis, trade deficit during the first three months of 2015 declined by 0.1 percent to US dollars 1,931 million.
“The largest contribution to the decline in exports was from tea followed by precious metals and textiles and garments which are categorized under agricultural exports, mineral exports and industrial exports respectively. Meanwhile, export earnings from seafood declined by 36.5 percent during the month mainly caused by 77.6 percent decline in seafood exports to the EU market, the main seafood market of Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan seafood exports to the EU market were restricted effective from mid-January 2015 by the European Union,” the Central Bank said.
On cumulative basis, expenditure on imports during first three months of 2015 increased marginally by 0.9 percent, year-on-year, to US dollars 4,792 million mainly led by consumer goods imports followed by investment goods imports. During the period of January-March 2015, the main import origins were India, China, Japan, UAE and Singapore accounting for about 61 percent of total imports.