Sri Lanka's exports rise 15.7 pct in first five months

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Sri Lanka's exports grew by 15.7 percent to 4.45 billion U.S. dollars during the first five months of 2014 when compared to the same period last year, the central bank said here on Monday.

The export sector strengthened further and trade deficit narrowed for the eighth consecutive month in May by falling 47.9 percent to 393 million U.S. dollars.

Earnings from exports in May increased significantly on a yearly basis, up by 11.1 percent to 882 million U.S. dollars, while expenditure on imports declined by 17.6 percent to 1.275 billion U.S dollars.

The cumulative trade deficit for the first five months of the year contracted by 19.3 percent, as a result of a 15.7 percent growth in export earnings and a 1.5 percent decline in import expenditure, the central bank added in its report.

The largest contribution to the overall growth came from exports of industrial products, followed by those of agricultural products.

Earnings from exports of industrial products grew by 7.7 percent in May to 639 million U.S. dollars, reflecting positive performance in almost all sub categories.

Textiles and garment exports made the largest contribution, growing by 14.5 percent to 365 million U.S. dollars in May compared to the same period last year.

Earnings from agricultural products exports increased 21.2 percent in May to 239.9 million U.S. dollars, out of which tea exports increased by 9.7 percent to hit 140.6 million U.S. dollars.

By the end of May, Sri Lanka's gross official reserves amounted to 8.8 billion U.S. dollars, while total international reserves, which include foreign assets of commercial banks, amounted to 10.2 billion U.S. dollars.

"The domestic foreign exchange market has remained relatively stable during the year so far up to July 11, 2014, with the rupee marginally appreciating by 0.40 percent against the U.S. dollar," the central bank said.

The central bank has projected the island's economy to grow by 7.8 percent in 2014. Endi

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