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Improvements in trade deficit and worker remittances



External sector performance – January 2021 overview extracts

Sri Lanka’s external sector continued to recover in many aspects during January 2021, mainly supported by an improved trade deficit and a notable increase in workers’ remittances. The reduced deficit in the trade account in January 2021 compared to January 2020 was the result of a larger decline in merchandise imports over merchandise exports.

Meanwhile, workers’ remittances continued to record a notable growth in January 2021, strengthening the external current account. In the financial account, foreign investment in the government securities market recorded a marginal net inflow while the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recorded net outflows in January 2021. The Sri Lankan rupee experienced depreciation pressure in January 2021, but measures taken by the Central Bank and the continuation of restrictions on non-essential imports by the government helped contain this pressure.

Trade Balance:

The deficit in the trade account narrowed in January 2021 by US dollars 63 million to US dollars 667 million, from US dollars 730 million recorded in January 2020, with a larger decline in imports compared to the decline in exports. In December 2020, the trade deficit was US dollars 562 million.

Terms of trade, i.e., the ratio of the price of exports to the price of imports, improved by 7.0 per cent in January 2021, compared to January 2020, with higher export prices and lower import prices compared to January 2020.

Overall exports:

Earnings from merchandise exports in January 2021 were 8.0 per cent lower compared to January 2020. Earnings from exports in January 2021 were recorded at US dollars 924 million compared to US dollars 1,005 million in January 2020 and US dollars 964 million in December 2020.

Industrial exports:

Earnings from the export of industrial goods declined by 11.4 per cent in January 2021 compared to a year ago, mainly due to the decline in the export of textiles and garments by 10.8 per cent and the decline in the export of petroleum products by 58.5 per cent. The export of garments to all major destinations recorded a decline. Earnings from the export of petroleum products that comprises bunkering and aviation fuel and other petroleum products declined due to the decline in quantities supplied as well as the decline in prices. Further, exports under gems, diamonds and jewellery and many of the smaller export segments declined. However, sizable increases were recorded in relation to rubber products (mainly surgical and other gloves, and tyres); machinery and mechanical appliances (mainly electrical and electronic equipment); food, beverages and tobacco (mainly vegetables, fruits and nut preparations), among others.

Agricultural exports:

Export earnings from agricultural goods increased by 5.9 per cent in January 2021 on a year-on-year basis, mainly due to the increase in the export of spices, such as cinnamon, pepper and cloves. Earnings from tea exports increased marginally due to the price increase, while volume exported had declined. The export of coconut fibres, natural rubber and unmanufactured tobacco also recorded marginal increases. Most of the other agricultural export categories recorded a decline in earnings.

Mineral exports:

Mineral exports increased in January 2021 compared to January 2020, mainly due to the increase in export of titanium and zirconium ores, slag and other precious metals.

Export indices:

The export volume index declined by 10.2 per cent while the unit value index increased by 2.5 per cent on a year-on-year basis in January 2021. This indicates that the decline in export earnings was due to lower export volumes.(CBSL)




DFCC Bank facilitates the continued growth of Sri Lankan SMEs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic



The unprecedented surfacing of the COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting scar on the global population and economy. With no precise warning on the horizon, businesses everywhere were thrown into the deep end, and survival seemed uncertain during the peak of the pandemic. In Sri Lanka, a nation where SMEs form the integral backbone of the economy, the ill effects have been taking a heavy toll on businesses both fiscally and mentally.

However, we as Sri Lankans are resilient at our core, and with the integral support of frontline workers, officials, and essential services such as our banking partners, we set forth on a journey to assess, adapt and survive. One such story about perseverance through a valuable relationship comes from K.S.K. Menan of Star Food Store (Pvt) Ltd, and his trusted banking partner, DFCC Bank.

Emerging from humble beginnings, Menan’s story is one that inspires patriotism, and reaffirms the importance of giving back to your motherland. As a self-made entrepreneur, Menan was successfully engaged with the departmental store industry in the United Kingdom, when one day, he decided to leave everything there and come back to his home, Sri Lanka. He was on a mission to give back to the country that had given him so much, and that led to the birth of ‘Star Food Store’ in Kokkuvil, a supermarket equipped with all the necessary household essentials. DFCC Bank had been by his side throughout the entire journey until the opening of his outlet, and even more when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“When Imoved back to Sri Lanka in 2016, the very first account I opened was with DFCC Bank, and with their support, I was able to open the first‘Star Food Store’ in November 2019. However, when COVID-19 struck, everything came to halt. When restrictions were relaxed, I faced multiple problems with bringing things back to how they were. DFCC Bank stepped in and gave me overdraft facilities, helped clear my cheques, and provided additional funds at a low interest rate”.

Today, Menan has been able to open a second Star Food Store outlet at Achchuveli in August 2020, and a third at Idaikkadu in February 2021. He states that expansion is the last thing most businesses consider during this turbulent time, however, the X factor that has allowed him to do this is his banking partner.

“The confidence an entrepreneur gains with the right banking partner is immeasurable, and I have been able to find that with DFCC Bank. They have always gone out of the way to ensure my venture’s continuity, from sending someone from the branch immediately if there is an issue with the card machine during business hours, or even understanding that loose change is important for a supermarket and sending bags of coins from the Colombo branch for business use. I now have plans of constructing a state-of-the-art shopping complex in Jaffna, and look forward to working with DFCC on this project”.

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Covid-19 third wave fears dampen stock market



By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

The CSE witnessed a steep decline following worries over the possible outbreak of a  Covid 19 third wave in the country and the continuation of selling pressure for certain stocks in the market, stock market analysts said.

CSE investors worried over 52 new cases being detected in two retail stores at Pamunuwa and at a state bank in Colombo at the end of the April holidays. Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry warned of a possible surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, market analysts said.

  Consequently, the All Share Price Index declined by 2.9 percent and S and P SL20 dropped by three percent. Major companies sought after by investors negatively contributed to both indices during the day. According to  market analysts,  these companies  were:  LOLC (27 negative points),  Expolanka (19 negative points), Vallibel One (12 negative points), Hayleys (11 negative points) and JKH (10 negative points).

All Share Price Index went down by 198.39 points and S and P SL20 down by 93.89 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3.7 billion with a single crossing. The crossing was reported in Ceylon Cold Stores (CIS), which crossed 60000 shares to the tune of Rs. 35.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 594. 

In the retail market, five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were: Browns Investments Rs. 717.6 million (114 million shares traded), Expolanka Rs. 480 million (9.8 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs. 392 million (five million shares traded), Dipped Products Rs. 389 million (6.9 million shares traded) and LOLC Rs. 193 million (587,000 shares traded). During the day 197 million share volumes changed hands in 31305 transactions.  

Sri Lanka rupee quoted firmer around 192/194 levels to the US dollar in the spot market on Tuesday, while bond yields slightly eased, dealers said. Sri Lanka rupee last closed at 194/198 levels to the US dollar in the spot market on Monday. The Central Banks Telegraph Transfer rates stand at 187.93/191.97 levels below the spot rates on Monday.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has come under pressure amid money printing and low-interest rates, despite the worst import controls since the 1970s, observers said.

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SAT launches F5 portfolio to deliver secure digital experiences



(At left) : Edgar Dias, Regional Vice President of Channels and Partnerships, Asia Pacific, F5. (At right) : Sanjaya Padmaperuma, CEO of SAT.

South Asian Technologies (Pvt) Ltd, announces its appointment to be a distributor for F5 within Sri Lanka and Maldives to deliver secure digital experience to enterprises.

The cutting-edge technology is a portal for delivering applications and data with greater agility, security, availability, performance, and scalability.

F5’s portfolio of automation, security, performance, and insight capabilities empowers customers to create, secure, and operate adaptive applications that reduce costs, improve operations, and better protect users.

“With the increasing necessity for digitalisation in the workspace, now more than ever, organisations need proven solutions to help secure their businesses. Adding F5 to our existing portfolio gives South Asian Technologies, a more omniscient opportunity to equip our partners and customers with best-in-class application security and delivery solutions. As F5 enables adaptive applications, the SAT team is ecstatic at the prospect of securing our clientele with robust security offerings that have a proven history with Fortune 500 companies across the globe,” said Sanjaya Padmaperuma, CEO of SAT.

Every company today is in the digital experience business. In the wake of COVID-19, customer expectations are higher than ever, as the experiences garnered are the primary way that people interact and transact with just about every organisation at present.

F5 helps organisations deliver and secure the premium digital facilities that customers demand by enabling adaptive applications which, like living organisms, will naturally adapt based on their environment – growing, shrinking, defending, and healing themselves.

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