Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports continued its robust performance in October 2021, with a new high

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Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports increased by 35.9% to US$ 1,160.62 Million in October 2021 compared to October 2020 as per the data released by the Sri Lanka Customs. Exports maintained above one billion for the fifth time this year.

EDB Chairman & CE, Suresh D. de Mel said, “This is the highest-ever merchandise export figure in any October in our history. Opening up of Western markets together with the sustained production in Sri Lanka can be attributed to this increase. I commended our exporters for this outstanding performance during these difficult times ”

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Monthly Merchandize Export Performance 2019, 2020 & January-October 2021 in Millions of US$

Sources: Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Customs & Sri Lanka Export Development Board

Major Exports in October 2021

Export earnings from Apparel & Textile have increased by 42.8 % y-o-y to $ 509 million in October 2021 with strong performance in exports of Apparel (43.4%), Woven Fabrics (86.6%) and Made-Up Textile Articles (116.3%). On a year-on-year basis, exports Yarn and other Textile Articles declined by 26.4% in October 2021 in comparison to October 2020.

Export earnings from Rubber and Rubber Finished products have increased by 14.5 % y-o-y to $ 91.9 million in October 2021, with strong performance in exports of industrial & surgical gloves (6.5%) and Pneumatic & Retreated Rubber Tyres & Tubes (32.9%).

Export earnings from kernel products, fiber products and shell products categorized under the Coconut based products increased by 29.2%, 20.6% and 19.0% respectively in October 2021 compared to October 2020.

Year-on- year, export earnings from Desiccated Coconut, Coconut Milk powder, Coconut cream and Liquid Coconut Milk categorized under the Coconut Kernel Products increased by 73.9%, 13.2%, 54.2% and 23% respectively in October 2021. However, earnings from export of Coconut Oil decreased by 13.9% in October 2021.

Being the largest contributor to Coconut based sector, Coco Peat, Fiber Pith & Moulded products which are categorized under the Coconut fibre products, increased by 30.6% to US$ 17.1 Mn in October 2021 in comparison to October 2020. Earnings from Activated Carbon, which is categorised under the Coconut shell products increased by 20.4% in October 2021 compared to October 2020.

Export earnings from the Electrical & Electronics Components increased by 87.3% y-o-y to US$ 38.4 Mn in October 2021 with strong performance in exports of Insulated wires & cables (69.1%), Switches, Boards & Panels (59.8%) and Electronic Transformers (199.2%).

Export earnings from Seafood increased by 57% to US$ 24.5 Mn in October 2021 compared to October 2020. This increase was mainly due to the increase in earnings from export of Frozen fish, Shrimps and Prawns, Fish Fresh or Chilled and other edible fish.

Export earnings from Boat building recorded US$ 33.7 Mn in October 2021 with the increased earnings of exports to Iraq.

Major Exports during the period of January – October 2021

For the period of January to October 2021, merchandise exports increased by 21.2 % to US$ 10,059.4 Million compared to the corresponding period of 2020, following increased exports of almost all the major product sectors; Apparel & Textiles, Tea, Rubber-based products, Coconut based products, Electronics & Electronic Components, Spices and Concentrates, Food & Beverages, Seafood and Ornamental fish as shown in the table below.

Earnings from export of Apparel & Textile increased by 20.9% to US% 4,388.5 Mn during the first ten months in 2021 compared to the same period of 2020, export of apparel and woven fabrics expanded by 23.6% and 102.5% while exports of Made-Up Textile Articles and Yarn and other Textile Articles were down by 46.2% and 6.7%, respectively.

Export earnings from Tea increased by 6.2% to US$ 1,096.1Mn during the period of January to October 2021 compared with the corresponding period of 2020. Exports of all the sub categories of tea sector; Tea packets, Bulk Tea, Tea bags, Instant Tea and Green Tea increased by 9.1%, 2.7%, 50.3%, 21.9% and 24.8% respectively during the first ten months of 2021 compared with the same period of 2020.

In parallel, export earnings from Rubber & Rubber finished products increased by 34.4 % to US$ 896.9 Mn in January – October 2021 compared with the same period of 2020 attributed to higher exports of Industrial & Surgical Gloves of Rubber (54.3%) and Pneumatic & Retreated Rubber Tyres & Tubes (38.7%).

For the first nine months of 2021, export earnings from Coconut & Coconut based products expanded by 24.4% to US$ 354 Mn from the same period last year. Earnings from all the major categories of Coconut based products increased in the period of January – October 2021 compared with the corresponding period of 2020 due to the improved performance in export of Liquid Coconut Milk, Coconut cream, Coconut Milk Powder, Cocopeat, Mattress Fiber, & Activated Carbon, Coconut Oil and Desiccated Coconut.

Meanwhile earnings from export of Electrical and Electronic Components (EEC) increased by 30.5 % to US$ 348 Mn in the period of January to October 2021 compared to the corresponding period of 2020. Export of Insulated wires increased by 51.3 % in during the period of January to October 2021 to US$ 58.3 Mn compared with the corresponding period of previous year. In addition, export of Electrical Transformers, Switches, Boards & Panels and Other Electrical & Electronic Products increased by 56.8%, 35.2% and 24.8 % respectively during the period of January to October 2021 compared with the corresponding period of previous year.

Export earnings from Spices and Essential Oils increased by 36.3% to US$ 365.7 Mn in the period of January to October 2021 compared to year 2020 due to the better performance in all the sub categories; Cinnamon (13.8%), pepper (132.2%), cloves (152.6%), nutmeg & mace (15.4) and Oleoresins (66.1%), etc.

Table 1: Merchandise Export Performance

Values in US$ Mns

Exports of GoodsJan-Oct2019Jan-Oct2020Jan-Oct 2021% Growth (20-21)Oct 2020Oct2021% Growth (20-21)
Apparel & Textile4,612.63,630.44,388.520.9356.5509.042.8
Tea1,139.11,031.81,096.16.2112.2109.5-2.4
Rubber-based753.7667.13896.8934.480.391.9114.5
Coconut-based520.9550.7684.624.362.277.724.9
Diamond, Gems & Jewelery263.0126.9211.766.87.925.4219.9
Electronics & Electronic   Components323.8266.7348.030.520.538.487.3
Spices and Concentrates268.0268.3365.736.333.844.932.8
Processed Food & Beverages304.7300.6339.813.124.763.0154.8
Seafood219.6165.0212.528.815.624.557.0
Ornamental Fish12.811.315.537.81.51.710.6
Vegetables26.721.821.4-2.22.12.724.8
Fruits36.030.531.84.12.83.213.8
Other Export Crops30.063.855.8-12.63.07.4145.7
Flowers & Foliage15.711.113.118.11.31.844.4
Boat Building65.22.036.61703.90.033.7112200.0
Petroleum Products288.7267.3180.6-32.410.116.765.4
Others1,079.9883.91,160.831.3119.8109.1-8.9
Total Merchandize Exports    9,960.48,299.210,059.421.2  854.31,160.635.9

Sri Lanka’s Export Performance in Major Markets

Strong export performance were recorded for the 10 major export markets, which accounted for 63% of total merchandise exports during the period January to October 2021.

During the first ten months of 2021, exports to United States of America, Sri Lanka’s single largest export destination, increased by 18.1 % to US$ 2,466.7 Mn compared to the same period of 2020. The better performance led by increase in exports of Apparel & Textile, Rubber based Products (Pneumatic & Retreated Rubber Tyres & Tubes, Industrial & Surgical Gloves of Rubber), Motor Vehicles Parts, Activated Carbon, Tea Packets and Cinnamon.

Exports to United Kingdom as the second largest trading partner recorded an increase of 0.2 % to US$ 768 Mn during the period of January to October 2021 compared with the corresponding period of previous year. This performance has resulted in the increased Exports recorded in Apparel & Textile, Rubber based Products sectors (Pneumatic & Retreated Rubber Tyres & Tubes, Industrial & Surgical Gloves of Rubber) and Other Electrical & Electronic Products.

Table 2: Top 10 Export Destinations

CountryJan-Oct2020Jan-Oct 2021% Growth (20-21)Oct 2020Oct2021% Growth (20-21)
1United States2,089.22,466.718.1197.1291.347.8
2United Kingdom766.7768.00.2102.588.5-13.7
3India498.8644.629.245.177.672.1
4Germany479.0609.727.349.064.832.3
5Italy371.6480.629.341.361.949.7
6Netherlands232.4346.349.029.940.334.5
7Belgium237.7272.714.724.929.619.1
8Canada172.6255.347.916.026.566.0
9China178.0228.028.118.720.38.6
10UAE160.5229.242.814.328.297.5
Others3,112.73,758.320.7315.6431.736.8
Total8,299.210,059.421.2  854.31,160.635.9

Exports to FTA Partners

During the period of January to October 2021, exports to Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners accounted for 7.2% of total merchandise exports increased by 28.8% to US$ 720.3 Mn.

Moreover, Exports to India and Pakistan increased by 29.2% and 24.9% y-o-y to US$ 644.6 Mn and US$ 75.4 Mn respectively during the first ten months of 2021.  Increased Exports to India is mainly supported by increased exports of Animal Feed (15.1%), Pepper (162.3%), Woven fabrics (1712%) and Bicycles Not Motorized (287.9%) in the first ten months of 2021.

In addition, better performance recorded in Pakistan led by Sheet Rubber, Desiccated Coconut, Other Articles of Stones, Woven Fabrics and Perfumes, Cosmetics, Shampoos & Makeup Preparations.

Sri Lanka’s Export Performance in Regions 

On a region wise comparison exports to all other regions increased except CIS regions during the period of January to October 2021 compared with the corresponding period of the previous year.

Table 3: Export Regions

RegionJan-Oct2020Jan-Oct 2021% Growth (20-21)Oct 2020Oct2021% Growth (20-21)
European Union (EU) excluding UK1,865.42,397.628.5204.4275.234.7
United States2,089.22,466.718.1197.1291.347.8
South Asia764.1992.429.970.6119.369.0
ASEAN242.3266.29.919.629.550.9
CIS Countries230.1209.1-9.125.720.4-20.8
African Countries207.4260.525.618.228.556.4
Middle East Countries (excl. Cyprus & Egypt)593.3747.526.051.4122.5138.4
Others2,307.42,719.417.9267.3273.92.5
Total Merchandise Exports8,299.210,059.421.2  854.31,160.635.9

Exports to the European Union (EU) which comprised 24% of Sri Lanka’s exports during the period of January to October 2021 increased by 28.5 % y-o-y to US$ 2,397.6 Mn.

Breakdown of exports to the top five EU markets which accounted for 80% of Sri Lanka’s total exports to the EU were; Germany US$ 609.7 Mn (increased by 27.3%), Italy US$ 480.6 Mn (increased by 29.3%), Netherlands US$ 346.3 Mn (increased by 49 %), Belgium US$ 272.7 Mn (increased by 14.7%) and France US$ 198.3 Mn. (increased by 30%).

Export of Services

The estimated value of services exports for the period of January to October 2021 was 2,521.1 Million dollars, increasing 28.5 % over the corresponding period of 2020. The services exports estimated by EDB consists of ICT/BPM, Construction, Financial services and Transport & Logistics.

Revised Export Target & Achievement

The revised export target of the Export Development Board for 2021 is US$ 15.72 billion and of that we expect US$ 12.14 billion from merchandise exports and US$ 3.58 billion from services exports. During the period January to October 2021, earnings from exports recorded US$ 12.6 billion including the estimated services data for July to October and 80 % achieved from the revised export target.

Further, earnings from Merchandise exports and services exports achieved 82.9 % and 70.3% respectively during the period of January to October 2021.

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