Sri Lanka imports continues its downward trend.
September 2022 saw US $ 1.28 billion in imports, down from $ 1.48 billion in the previous month and 16% year on year. However, the June 2022 figure at $ 1.22 billion remains the lowest so far this year suggesting there is room for further decline given the foreign exchange crisis.
The lowest import figure was in May 2020 at $ 994 million as an immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Central Bank said import expenditure declined for the seventh consecutive month, on a year-on-year basis. In the first nine months imports were down by 5.7% to $ 14 billion.
CBSL said a decline in import expenditure in September was observed in investment goods (-54% to $ 169 million) and non-food consumer goods (by 60% to $ 80 million) mainly resulting from the measures to compress imports.
However, an increase was recorded in imports of intermediate goods (7.7% to $ 913 million) and food and beverages by 11% to $ 121 million.
Expenditure on the importation of consumer goods declined by 35.3% to $ 201 million in September 2022, compared to September 2021, led by lower expenditure on non-food consumer goods.
The decline in import expenditure on non-food consumer goods was observed in all subcategories, with a notable drop in imports of medical and pharmaceuticals (mainly, the higher base in expenditure on vaccines), telecommunication devices (mainly, mobile telephones) and home appliances (mainly, televisions).
Expenditure on the importation of food and beverages increased by 10.7% to $ 121 million in September 2022 (y-o-y), mainly with an increase in import volumes of sugar and cereals and milling industry products (primarily, rice).
Further, imports of spices and beverages also improved to some extent. In contrast, expenditure on dairy products (mainly, milk powder), oils and fats (mainly, coconut oil), seafood (mainly, dried fish), fruits and vegetables declined in September 2022, compared to September 2021, which was mostly led by lower import volumes.
Expenditure on the importation of intermediate goods increased by 7.7% in September 2022, compared to September 2021, with a substantial share of increase contributed by fuel imports.
Expenditure on fuel, which comprises crude oil, refined petroleum and coal, increased by 87.3% to $ 376.4 million in September 2022, due to the increases of import volumes and prices of refined petroleum products, compared to September 2021.
Import volumes of coal continued to remain at marginal levels from June 2022.
Further, import expenditure on diamonds and precious stones and metals (primarily, industrial diamonds) and fertilizer (primarily, urea), also recorded an increase during September 2022, compared to September 2021.
Meanwhile, many other types of intermediate goods recorded a notable decline, including base metals (mainly, iron and steel), textiles and textile articles (mainly, fabrics), vehicle and machinery parts (mainly, motor vehicle parts), food preparation (mainly, fat and oil), wheat and maize, etc.