The Export Development Board (EDB) reveals that Lankan merchandise exports have grown up to an all-time record of over USD 11.4bn in 2017, surpassing the previous high of USD 11.1 bn achieved in 2014.
It also says that once, again the EU and the USA were our biggest markets taking USD 3bn each. The sectors showing particularly strong year-on-year growth were tea ~20% and fisheries 40%. Tea benefited from higher prices and enhanced access to Middle Eastern markets, particularly, Iran. Fisheries benefited from both the lifting of the EU ban in June 2016 and the GSP+ concession in May 2017. Apparel which accounts for over 40% of all goods exports and employs over 300,000 people directly, mostly women, recorded a modest 2% growth over 2016. However, it is encouraging that the past 4 months showed 10% year-on-year growth as new orders from the EU were secured due to the GSP+ benefit of 12% duty exemption. 2018 is expected to be a strong year for the apparel manufacturers. Services exports comprising ICT/BPM, logistics, financial services and construction contributed an additional USD 3.7 bn of exports, an increase of 8% compared to 2016.
The growth in services in 2017 was significant compared to the year 2016 where ICT/BPM grew at 7.7% and logistics at 5%. Furthermore, ICT/BPM companies are expected to show a double-digit growth next year with the budget support for IT SMEs to be executed in 2018, while benefiting from grant schemes for innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition, the 40% foreign ownership restriction will be removed from freight forwarding to facilitate investment into the sector. The Export Development Board (EDB), under the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, is Sri Lanka’s apex organization for the promotion and development of exports. Commenting on the landmark 2017 performance, EDB Chairperson, Indira Malwatte said, “Our export results are particularly noteworthy given the global trading environment.”
“Our peer nations have experienced material declines in trade in the past year, while Sri Lanka has maintained growth. This is a testament to the tenacity of our exporters and the relentless enhancement of their value proposition to customers.”