External trade continued to perform well in April 2011 with export earnings up 37.2% to US$ 746 million and imports up 53.7% to US$ 1,540 million.
The cumulative earnings from exports and expenditure on imports during the first four months have increased by 50.3% to $ 3,467 million and 43.2% to US$ 5,998 million, respectively. The trade deficit expanded to $ 794 million in April 2011.
The largest contribution to the growth in export earnings came from the industrial exports, mainly due to higher exports of textile and garments.
Earnings from exports of petroleum products and rubber products also performed well in April 2011. Earnings from exports of petroleum products increased to $ 50 million in April 2011, reflecting higher volumes and prices of bunker and aviation fuel.
Export earnings from rubber products continued to reflect higher levels of domestic value addition, particularly in the form of solid tyres and rubber gloves. However, earnings from machinery and equipment as well as ceramic products recorded year-on-year declines in April 2011.
Earnings from agricultural exports, which accounted for 21.9% of export earnings in April 2011, increased reflecting healthy growth in all major sub sectors. The average export prices of tea and rubber continued to remain high at $ 4.76 per kg and $ 5.14 per kg, respectively.
Earnings from other agricultural exports grew by 77.3% to $ 30 million, mainly due to the higher prices of unmanufactured tobacco, sesame seeds and vegetables and significant increases in the export volumes.
All major categories of imports increased substantially in April 2011, reflecting higher prices in the international market and higher domestic demand.
Expenditure on imports of intermediate goods increased in April 2011 led by higher expenditure on textiles and clothing imports. However, expenditure on petroleum imports showed a marginal decline mainly due to the lower import volumes of petroleum products. Crude oil imports, on the other hand, increased marginally despite the increase in the average import price of crude oil by 40.5% to $ 119.45 per barrel.
Expenditure on imports of investment goods also increased, led by higher expenditure on imports of transport equipment. Expenditure on imports of consumer goods increased by 67.4% in April 2011, led by non-food consumer goods, particularly, motor vehicles. Import expenditure on food and beverages increased by 27.7% mainly due to higher import volumes and higher prices of certain items.