Home / Front Page/ Exports up 11.4% to $ 8.5 b in 1H; may miss full year target of $ 20 b

Exports up 11.4% to $ 8.5 b in 1H; may miss full year target of $ 20 b

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 24 July 2019 00:20

 Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama with Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara and EDB Chairperson and CEO Indira Malwatte – Pic by Upul Abayasekara



  • Malik says growth amidst challenges is commendable, assures more support 
  • Merchandise exports cross $ 1 b mark in three months for first time
  • Services exports grow higher by 27% to $ 2.5 b in 1H


By Nisthar Cassim

Despite global and local challenges, Sri Lanka’s merchandised and service exports have risen by 11.4% to $ 8.5 billion in the first half of this year, prompting the Government to attribute it to a series of development efforts and assure further support. Releasing the latest yet provisional data, Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama said yesterday that export sector performance was commendable, though he admitted there is significant scope for higher value. “The 11.4% growth, despite the impact of the October 2018 undemocratic constitutional coup, and the Easter Sunday tragedy, as well as global challenges, is very satisfactory. For the first time, three months of 1H 2019 - January, March and June - have produced over $ 1 billion worth of merchandised exports. We had originally set an ambitious $ 20 billion target for 2019, but we may miss it and end up at around $ 18.5 billion, which will be still higher than the $ 16 billion achieved last year,” Samarawickrama said.

He noted that compared with $ 13.9 billion combined exports in 2016, the estimated figure for 2019 will reflect a 33% growth. 

“The previous regime didn’t give much emphasis for exports, but focused on the domestic development, forcing exports to languish at 11% of GDP. With the current Government’s efforts, this year it is estimated to rise to 18-20%. Ideally, exports need to move to $ 28 billion by 2022, and $ 35 billion in the medium-term, and we have taken a host of initiatives towards this,” Samarawickrama added, speaking at the briefing along with Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara, EDB Chairperson and Chief Executive Indira Malwatte, National Chamber of Exporters CEO Shiham Marikar, and Sri Lanka Shippers Council Chairman Chrisso de Mel.

“Sri Lanka needs to boost exports and Foreign Direct Investments, to get out of the debt trap triggered off by the previous regime. We cannot go on borrowing to pay our debt,” the Minister emphasised, adding that the liberal market-oriented policies of the current Government will accelerate the development process, and open new vistas for investment, exports and business opportunities. 

He said that broadening and deepening of the current Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), and the new FTAs with developing Asian nations, will enable access to a market of over 3 billion people. These FTAs can increase Sri Lanka’s competitiveness, and the private sector must strongly support these initiatives. 

“The Government is also actively engaged in reviewing the existing ecosystem in doing business in Sri Lanka, with a view to facilitating local entrepreneurship through the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business, the National Export Strategy (NES), and the Export Market Access Program,” he said.

Samarawickrama said that the NES, developed via multi-stakeholder input and support from the European Union and the International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva, is focused on enhancing the performance of sectors such as boat-building, electrical and electronic components, processed food and beverages, IT/BPM, and wellness tourism.

EDB Chief Malwatte said that despite external and domestic challenges, the export community was undeterred and the first half performance was a good testimony. “The export performance is benefitting from greater public-private sector collaboration, resolution of issues via the Exporters Forum, as well as support from the weekly Development Secretaries deliberations,” she added.

Share This Article

Facebook Twitter


1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.


Today's Columnists

Withering of expectations and prospects of new ones

Friday, 21 February 2020

The election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as President at the last Presidential Election can be said to have been the ultimate wish of the majority of Sinhala Buddhist people. Yet, the people were not aware that the President they were electing does not hav

Upsurge of populism

Friday, 21 February 2020

“Populism: denies the pluralism of contemporary societies. It promotes hostility to “enemies” and flirts with violence. It is generally gripped by a territorial mentality that prioritises borders and nation states against ‘foreigners’ and

Diplomatic drone strike, Indo-Lanka equation and constitutional change

Thursday, 20 February 2020

The ‘diplomatic drone strike’, the dramatic US strictures against the Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, tells us that Big Brother IS watching. This isn’t the usual suspects, its way out of their league. This is the Big League, the big b

Solar and wind power can resolve electricity crisis, early and cheaper, if allowed

Thursday, 20 February 2020

The country is facing the worst power situation in the history, with electricity generation being unable to meet the demand, with generation costs among the most expensive in the world. With the current scenario, the country cannot be expected to com

Columnists More