For the first time in 25 months, imports declined by 3.3 per cent in April, the Central Bank said yesterday.
Expenditure on imports recorded a year-on-year decline of 3.3 per cent to US$ 1,441 million in April 2012, for the first time in 25 months.
Earnings from exports recorded a year-on-year decline of 9.2 per cent to US$ 680 million in April 2012 largely due to lower international market prices for several major export items.
The trade deficit for the month of April 2012 grew moderately by 2.6 per cent, year-on-year, to US$ 761 million, decelerating at a rapid pace for the third consecutive month, and recording the lowest increase in 17 months.
The statement noted that expenditure on imports declined in April 2012 driven by reductions in both consumer goods and intermediate goods.
Expenditure on consumer goods imports declined by 12.9 per cent in April 2012, reflecting a decline in expenditure on most food and non-food consumer good categories.
In the food category, import expenditure on vegetables and spices declined significantly. With respect to imports of non-food consumer goods, expenditure on personal motor vehicle imports declined by 20.8 per cent in April 2012 to US$ 56 million.
“Expenditure on chemical products, diamonds and precious stones, fertiliser and wheat and maize also contributed to this decline. Although import volumes of both crude oil and refined petroleum products declined in April 2012, expenditure on petroleum imports increased in April 2012 by 7.5 per cent, reflecting an increase in the average crude oil import price to US$ 121.21 per barrel from US$ 119.45 per barrel in April 2011 and higher prices of refined products. Imports of investment goods increased by 19.6 per cent, year-on-year, in April 2012. The higher expenditure was recorded for all three major categories of investment goods, namely, machinery and equipment, transport equipment and building materials.”
Earnings from industrial exports declined by 8.7 per cent to US$ 520 million in April 2012 led by lower earnings from exports of textiles and garments, mainly reflecting the lower international cotton prices. Exports of petroleum products and food and beverages also declined in April 2012.
Industrial exports of animal fodder, rubber products and transport equipment recorded increase in April 2012. Agricultural exports declined by 15.2 per cent to US dollars 150 million, mainly due to lower earnings from tea, rubber and coconut resulting from lower prices in the international market.
Earnings from rubber exports were also partly affected by the lower export volumes due to the higher utilisation of rubber for manufacturing while the dip in coconut export earnings was particularly due to lower prices despite the higher export volumes.
However, earnings from exports of seafood and unmanufactured tobacco increased by 15 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively in April 2012. Among the minor agricultural exports, earnings from cocoa and cereals increased in April 2012.
In cumulative terms, expenditure on imports grew moderately by 11.9 per cent to US dollars 6,634 million in the first four months of 2012. This reflected 34.3 per cent increase in expenditure on petroleum imports (US$ 1,792 million) and 40.5 per cent increase in investment good imports (US$ 1,657 million).
Meanwhile earnings from exports declined by 3.1 per cent (US$ 3,314 million) mainly due to 2.8 per cent decline in earnings from textiles and garments exports (US$ 1,323 million) and 11.7 per cent decline in earnings from tea exports (US$ 421 million).