Sri Lanka merchandise exports reach US$1,066.1mn in March 20210 110
Sri Lanka exports had topped a billion US dollar to reach 1,066.1 million dollars in March 2021 sharply up 62.4 percent from a year ago when Coronavirus lockdowns hit shipment, the island’s export promotion office said.
Export earnings were up 11.5 percent in the first quarter of 2021 to 2,945.53 million US dollars.
Apparel exports were up 49 percent to 465 million US dollars, tea was up 99 percent to 124 million dollars rubber-based products were up 80 percent to 100 million.
Coconut-based products were up 109 percent to 80.14 million dollars, spices and essential oils were up 83 percent to 38 million US dollars.
Exports to the United States, Sri Lanka’s top export market grew 34 percent to 243 million US dollars, exports to UK grew 43 percent and to India 110 percent to 193 million US dollars.
Global markets are a buzz with fear being mooted about a “contagion” and China debt trap sweeping across Asian markets, the currencies have become a quick focus by analysist and it seems to be the go to button to push towards weakening of the currencies and dampening import demand, more so, Chinese import demand. This could be a strategic call given the rebalancing needed from a geopolitical point of view. The China and USA tussle for market share is at the forefront of this new “contagion” mantra.
The US has in fact declared war on trade and have undermined the WTO framework in the process as it does not suit their re-balancing agenda. Asian stocks have slipped to a 14-month low as at 12th Sep (Wednesday) with investor confidence chilled by the latest round of verbal threats in an intensifying U.S.-China trade conflict
China too is seeking WTO sanctions. China stocks fell on Wednesday morning, dragging the Shanghai Composite and the blue-chip CSI300 indexes down to new multi-year lows, as worries over escalation in the U.S.-China trade war hit investor sentiment.
Despite the rhetoric global trade volumes remain healthy (as indicated by the Baltic Dry Freight Index) and commodities seem to be rallying on the back of the trade wars, this price movement is fundamentally seen as markets discounting long term geo political risk to the Global economy, as both USA and China both still show signs of strong balance sheets and improving corporate profitability. Thus, the two largest consumer markets don’t seem to be dented as yet as the play for Asian market share continues, the winner of this bout would depreciate their currency to sustain the shift in market dominance and profits.
China and India – the second and seventh largest economies in the world (two largest economies in Asia) – are slowing down in 2019. The GDP growth rate in China is expected to be 6.2 percent, down from 6.7 percent in 2018 – the weakest in 3 decades. The GDP growth rate of India is projected at 6.7 percent, down from 7.0 percent in 2018. Chinese policy makers are saddled with trade talks with the US government to remove the recently imposed two way high tariff while Indian policy reforms take a backseat in the backdrop of impending National Elections in June 2019.
British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a setback as parliament voted against her BREXIT proposal. The loss throws more uncertainty on UK’s plan to leave the EU on March 29. The European Central Bank down grading its economic forecast for the Euro Zone for 2019 and 2020 due to persistent uncertainties and risks in the region, expect inflationary pressures to rise slowly as capacity diminishes.
The World Bank sees darkening prospects for global growth that will slow to 2.9 percent in 2019 in the backdrop of moderating international trade and investment, elevated trade tensions and tightening financial conditions. The World Bank observed that debt vulnerability in low income countries are rising. Debt to GDP ratio for low income countries have climbed and the composition of debt has shifted toward more expensive market based financing. The Bank suggests that these economies should focus on mobilizing domestic resources, strengthening debt and investment management practices, and building resilient macro fiscal frameworks.
Sri Lanka’s official reserves declined to USD 6,142 million by end of January 2019 from USD 6,919 million reported at the end of December 2018. Short term (within 01 year) liabilities on foreign currency assets remain at USD 6,547 million placing net reserve on a negative terrain. Selling rates of major currencies remained under pressure with import demand picking up in mid-February. The selling rate of the US dollar declined from Rs.180.28 on 15th February 2019 to Rs.177.59 a week ago.
US – China trade talks aimed at ending the use of new two way tariff continue in Washington following a no deal in the talks in Beijing during the second week of February. The US President has indicated that the March 01st deadline could be extended for an agreement to be reached. China and US have imposed duties on more than USD 360 million in the two way trade which has shaken the global economy.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) revealed that the GDP for South East Asia’s 5 major economies – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – has declined from 5.1 percent in 2017 to 4.8 percent in 2018. The ADB highlights that South East Asia with 650 million people and one of the world’s fastest growing regions, faces several headwinds such as escalating US – China trade tensions and weakening local currencies.