By Cheranka Mendis
Provisional data received by the Export Development Board (EDB) has revealed that exports in 2010 have swelled to a record $ 8.17 billion, up by 15% from last year. All sections of exports have shown a rise except for fisheries products which indicate a negative growth. Ironically year end statistics of 2009 show all sectors of exports to have had a negative growth except for the fisheries industry.
The expected figure for 2010 was $ 8 billion whilst the previous highest figure of $ 8.11 billion was in 2008. Export Development Board Chairman Janaka Ratnayake told Daily FT that the 2010 performance was highly encouraging as the year end statistics show the increment of export value surpassing the 2008 figure (USD 8, 174 million) which is said to be the best performing year so far. The December figure is also the highest monthly figure recorded in 2010. The figure is likely to change, Ratnayake said, to the better. “ICT industry is not included in this assessment. This is so as the industry does not have a HS code number making it challenging to find out the income generated from the sector. Sri Lanka’s exports... To rectify this and to find out the happenings in the ICT industry, an important part of the economy, the EDB has assigned an independent third party PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to do a value survey of the industry. This should be ready in two months time,” Ratnayake said. He envisages that another USD 300 million will be added to the total of the export performance of the country. In 2009 the ICT industry generated an income of USD 245 million. According to the data released, agricultural products have recorded a growth of USD 2003 million, a 20.19 per cent growth over the 2009 figure. The tea sector has recorded a value of USD 1370 million (15.64 per cent increase), rubber sector USD 169.71 with 72 per cent growth while other export crops such as spices, fruits and vegetables, essential oils etc have increased by 30 per cent to a value of USD 298.01 per cent. Coconut industry showed a growth with a value of USD 164 million. Industrial products have showed an increase of 13.04 per cent, valued at USD 5875.58 million. Despite worries that the loss of GSP+ would bring in negative growth, the apparel industry has upped its exports by 6.4 per cent recording a value of USD 3471.37 million. Diamond, gem and jewellery industry also increased its revenue even though it was a minute move to USD 473 million — a three per cent increase. Manufacturing sector improved its exports by 31 per cent, a total of USD 1795.44 million. The highest revenue earner in the said sector is finished rubber products which fetched USD 560 million. It was followed by electrical, electronic and machinery products with USD 258 million. Petroleum products have increased by 17 per cent in 2010 closing the account with USD 134.84 million. “The increase in exports is attributed to the successful implementation of the market diversification project. Our aim was to shift away from the traditional markets to other markets such as BRIC and Asia. Asia is important in our role of growth as it houses two thirds of the global population,” he said. As at 31 December, Sri Lanka’s major exporter is United States which has imported goods valued at USD 1, 757 million, growing by 10 per cent since 2009 where the exports were documented as USD 1, 590 million. UK comes second with exports valued at USD 1, 014 million with India and Italy getting on as third with USD 460 million. For UK however the export volumes shows a decline, even though a minute one of 0.92 per cent. This is attributed to the recession and its implications, Ratnayake said. “The top five products exported to USA are garments, tyres and tubes, apparel accessories (gloves etc), gems and activated carbons. To the EU, the main exports are garments, diamonds, tyres and tubes, frozen fish and packaged tea in order of its value generation.” However, markets such as Singapore, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Switzerland along with other countries have increased in their importation of local products. Except for Syria, South Korea, Poland and Slovakia, exports to every other country have increased when figures for 2010 are compared with the year before. The Chairman stated that the aim is to reduce the market dependency to Europe and UK by 60 per cent over the next few years. The growth targeted for 2011 is USD 9 billion, Rathnayake said and with the inclusion of ICT, KPO and BPO industry the numbers will go up to USD 10 billion, he asserted.