Sri Lanka’s external sector performance has been resilient with high export earnings, decline in imports, lowests trade deficit, moderate foreign remittances and recovery in tourism in 2022.
Earnings from exports remained resilient during 2022 recording the highest ever exports, while expenditure on imports declined significantly in 2022, compared to 2021.
Merchandise trade deficit recorded the lowest in 2022, since 2010. Foreign investments in the government securities market and Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recorded a notable net inflow during 2022 compared to net outflow in 2021.
The recovery in earnings from tourism persisted in 2022 and marked a noticeable growth, although workers’ remittances moderated in 2022, compared to 2021.
Sri Lanka’s gross official reserves stood at an estimated US dollars 1.9 billion by the end of 2022, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said.
The bank disclosed that the gradual improvement in workers’ remittances, together with the revitalization of tourism, helped improve the external current account balance in recent months while easing excessive pressures in the domestic foreign exchange market.
As a result, the exchange rate has remained relatively stable, and recorded a marginal appreciation against the US dollar, thus far in 2023.
Gross official reserves were estimated at US dollars 1.9 billion as of end 2022, including the swap facility from the People’s Bank of China, equivalent to around US dollars 1.4 billion.
Workers’ remittances in 2022 amounted to US dollars 3,789 million, in comparison to US dollars 5,491 million in 2021, recording a decline of 31.0 per cent, though a notable recovery was witnessed during the latter part of the year.
Meanwhile, workers’ remittances increased to US dollars 476 million during December 2022, in comparison to US dollars 384 million in the previous month, recording the highest monthly remittances during 2022.
Total departures for foreign employment during 2022 were recorded at 299,934, contributed mainly by the unskilled (101,786), skilled (88,215) and domestic aid (73,781) categories.
Total departures for foreign employment were recorded at 23,407 during the month of December 2022.
A total of 719,978 tourist arrivals were recorded in 2022, compared to 194,495 arrivals in 2021, recording the highest tourist arrivals after 2019.
Tourist arrivals increased notably in December 2022 to 91,961, from 59,759 arrivals recorded in November 2022. Russia, India, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany remained the main source countries for tourist arrivals in December 2022.
Earnings from tourism are estimated at US dollars 1,136 million in 2022, compared to US dollars 507 million in 2021.
Earnings from tourism in the month of December 2022 are estimated at US dollars 127 million, in comparison to US dollars 81 million in the previous month and US dollars 233 million in the corresponding month in the previous year.