SL targets $ 13 b exports in 2021

After successfully achieving the revised export target amidst Covid-19 induced supply chain disruptions, the Government has set an ambitious export target of about $ 13 billion for 2021.

An official from the Ministry of Trade told The Morning Business that the Ministry, together with the Export Development Board (EDB), that this target can be achieved this year. 

The target is much closer to the target of $ 13.5 billion set for 2020 before the local outbreak of the pandemic.

Amid severe impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports remained at $ 9.9 billion in 2020, which is a 104% achievement from the revised forecast of $ 9.5 billion, according to the Export Development Board (EDB).

The EDB set an initial target of $ 13.5 billion for the merchandise export sectors in early 2020. Nevertheless, the EDB in a statement last week noted that it remained challenging, requiring not only strong efforts from local enterprises, but also the recovery of global demand amid the complicated Covid-19 situation.

EDB Chairman Suresh de Mel said: “Amidst the outbreak of Covid-19, a notable rebound of the export sector was recorded from mid-2020 with the proactive measures introduced by the Government. The growth in exports was not only due to the effective prevention and control of the epidemic in Sri Lanka; the commitment of the exporter community to support the national economy by bringing in the much-needed foreign currency in a crisis situation is commendable.”

As per the Customs statistics, export earnings in December 2020 amounted to $ 931.65 million, which was 13.75% higher than in November 2020, and 6.91% lower than December 2019. The reduction recorded in the October and November exports was due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, adverse global market conditions for Sri Lanka’s key exports were aggravated by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic experienced by many countries, leading to low demand for exports from Sri Lanka, according to the EDB.

When considering the Top 10 export markets, other than the US, the UK, and Germany, increases in exports were recorded in other markets. Exports to China and Turkey increased by 30.97% and 31.01%, respectively, in December 2020 over December 2019. Exports to the EU and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) regions recorded increases of 4.86% and 5.92%, respectively, in December 2020 compared to December 2019, while exports to other regions had declined.

Merchandise export earnings from January to December 2020 totalled $ 9,912 million, compared to $ 11,940 million recorded in the similar period of the previous year – a decline of 16.98 %. 

Major exports such as apparel and textiles ($ 4,405.84 million), tea ($ 1,240.94 million), rubber and rubber-based products ($ 816.17 million), and electrical and electronic components ($ 328.28 million) recorded decreases of 21.01%, 7.83%, 9.66%, and 13.87%, respectively during January-December 2020 compared to the similar period the previous year.

Furthermore, one of the economic sectors hit hardest by Covid-19, apparel exports, recorded $ 4.4 billion in exports, higher than the revised forecast of $ 4.1 billion in April.

However, the export of coconut and coconut-based products ($ 664.54 million) spices and concentrates ($ 335.47 million), and other export crops ($ 67.59 million) recorded positive growth rates during the period.