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Increase in import expenditure outpaces rise in export earnings

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The CBSL publishes a ‘Monthly Trade Bulletin’ with further information on merchandise trade performance, which can be viewed at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka website under Statistics > Economic Indicators > Monthly Trade Bulletin. https://www.cbsl.gov.lk/en/monthly-trade-bulletin

Extracts of CBSL External Sector Performance – August 2021

Increased financial inflows bolstered Gross Official Reserves (GOR) during the month of August 2021, while merchandise exports exceeded US dollars 1.0 billion for the third consecutive month. However, the increase of import expenditure outpaced the increase of export earnings, resulting in an expansion of the trade deficit, compared to a year earlier. Tourist arrivals gathered some momentum in August 2021, recording a notable increase over the previous month, although the numbers remained low.

A moderation of workers’ remittances was observed in August 2021. Sri Lanka received the allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the general SDR allocation in 2021. Further, initial disbursements under the bilateral currency swap arrangement between the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Bangladesh Bank were received during August 2021. The average spot exchange rate in the interbank market remained broadly stable in August 2021, while pressures on the exchange rate were observed towards the end of the month, prompting the Central Bank to intervene in the foreign exchange market to stabilise the rupee.

Trade Balance and Terms of Trade

Trade Balance: The deficit in the trade account widened on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis to US dollars 586 million in August 2021, compared to the deficit of US dollars 342 million recorded in August 2020. The cumulative deficit in the trade account from January to August 2021 also widened to US dollars 5,509 million from US dollars 3,812 million in the corresponding period of 2020. The major contributory factors that contributed to the widening of the trade deficit are shown in Figure 1.

Terms of Trade: Terms of trade, i.e., the ratio of the price of exports to the price of imports, deteriorated by 19.2 per cent in August 2021, compared to August 2020, as the increase in import prices surpassed the increase in export prices.

Performance of Merchandise Exports1

Overall exports: Earnings from exports in August 2021 grew by 16.2 per cent over August 2020 to reach US dollars 1,100 million, reaching the highest level of exports recorded in a month of August. Earnings from exports were marginally higher at US dollars 1,104 million in July 2021. Cumulative export earnings increased by 22.6 per cent during January-August 2021, amounting to US dollars 7,903 million, compared to US dollars 6,445 million recorded in the corresponding period in 2020. However, the recent gap of around US dollars 345 million per month, on average, between the merchandise outflow and the financial inflow related to such exports has been a matter of concern.

Industrial exports: Earnings from the export of industrial goods increased by 17.5 per cent in August 2021, compared to August 2020. This increase was due to a broad-based increase in earnings from most of the industrial products led by textiles and garments; petroleum products; rubber products; food, beverages and tobacco; and machinery and mechanical appliances. Export of garments to all major markets increased. Earnings from the export of petroleum products increased with the increase in prices of aviation and bunker fuel and the increase in volumes of bunker fuel exports. Increase in earnings from tyres and gloves led to higher earnings from rubber products.



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‘Rekindle Happiness with New Experiences’ this Season with Nations Trust Bank American Express

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The season of joy comes early for Nations Trust Bank American Express Cardmembers, with the ‘Rekindle Happiness with New Experiences’ campaign. Cardmembers will receive amazing benefits and savings from over 300 merchants island-wide, across all categories online and offline, all the way to 31st December 2021.

The time spent with loved ones during this season of togetherness and sharing will be a gift in itself. Nations Trust Bank American Express launched the seasonal campaign with the hope of bringing new life to the season of happiness and merriment. With the countless benefits and privileges, the campaign will allow loyal Cardmembers to celebrate this season in style with memories for the ages.

The offers for Cardmembers come from a wide range of categories including but not limited to Clothing, Gifting, Hampers, Dining, Hotel stays, Supermarkets, and Automobiles.  Niluka Gunatilake, Head of Cards at Nations Trust Bank stated, “It’s that time of the year when everybody looks forward to the year-end cheer and festivities. Particularly, after coming out of several lockdowns, we are all excited for the upcoming festive season. Nations Trust Bank American Express is delighted to present seasonal benefits and privileges for our Cardmembers to celebrate this season of giving, sharing and joy! They can look forward to a rewarding season with a plethora of offers as we partner with leading retail establishments, dining partners, hotels & resorts. We invite our Cardmembers make use of the benefits and privileges and have a wonderful season to rekindle happiness with new experiences.”

Nations Trust Bank American Express invites cardmembers to enjoy the festivities and find out more about the benefits and privileges offered this season by visiting www.americanexpress.lk. The Bank strongly advises Cardmembers to adhere to all health and safety guidelines issued by the Government whilst they enjoy their seasonal shopping, dining and lodging.

Nations Trust Bank PLC is among the top 15 business establishments in Sri Lanka as ranked by Business Today. Stemming from its vision of “helping people and businesses by providing financial services and information to achieve their goals and aspirations in a sustainable way”, the Bank serves a diverse range of customers across both individual and corporate, with an enviable portfolio of banking and financial products and services. Strongly focused on digital empowerment through cutting-edge digital banking technologies, the Bank is a pioneer in many innovative customer centric banking solutions such as extended banking hours, and FriMi – Sri Lanka’s first digital banking experience. Delivering premium value, service and connecting its Card Members to rewarding experiences and opportunities Nations Trust Bank PLC is an issuer and sole acquirer of American Express Cards in Sri Lanka. The Bank operates 96 branches across the country and has an ATM network covering 127 locations and 48 Cash Deposit & Withdrawal Machines, plus more than 3,700 ATMs on the Lanka Pay Network.

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Airtel’s network expansion to amplify island-wide 4G coverage

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Airtel Lanka, a subsidiary of international telecom giant Bharti Airtel Limited, recently revealed its plans to strategically expand its new 4G network across the island.

As such, over 400 new 4G sites are being commissioned across the country, which is in addition to the 2,000 plus 4G sites Airtel added during the launch of its 4G.

The new 4G sites are mapped out to ensure enhanced capacity in highly populated areas and coverage penetration into rural regions. Airtel’s 4G network is built on a triple layer network, which gives it a solid combination of coverage and capacity to deliver a superior experience with drastically improved indoor coverage with stronger signal penetration.

Having already completed over a third of the newly planned 4G sites, the finished sites are estimated to cover over an additional one million of the population. A prominent cause for the company to expedite its expansion drive was the two-fold increase in data usage since the pandemic brought along a new normal.

“I am certain that our rapid expansion strategy will directly benefit our consumers across the island, giving them a refreshed and enhanced network experience through our world-class 4G capabilities. Until adequate or even excess coverage is obtained, we will continue our 4G expansion drive, with every location also being 5G-ready to seamlessly accommodate the next generation of network when the time comes,” commented Airtel Lanka CEO/MD Ashish Chandra.

Through this drive, Airtel users will be given the opportunity to enjoy a network experience unlike ever before. As Airtel is also equipped with a refreshed prepaid and postpaid model with the recent launch of ‘Freedom Packs’, the launch of Airtel 4G is the telco’s single largest investment in Sri Lanka since its entry into the island in 2009. The purpose-built 4G network promises users a superior user experience including 99% buffer-free streaming, noticeably quicker loading times and improved indoor coverage with 4G signals that never fail.

From online learning to work-from-home to virtual socialising, every user from children to adults will be able to benefit from not having to face any more call drops, interruptions or coverage issues.

In addition to the company led expansion of amplifying coverage island wide, Airtel’s joint venture with the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka’s (TRCSL) Gamata Sanniwedanaya aims to achieve 100% island wide coverage by 2022 by bridging the digital gap in rural districts with poor network coverage, by providing equal access to mobile connectivity for all Sri Lankans.

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HNB hails Sri Lanka Paralympic heroes as an inspiration to new generation of athletes

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(front row) HNB DGM –Retail & SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne (third from left), HNB MD/CEO, Jonathan Alles (fifth from left), HNB Chief Transformation Officer /DGM, L. Chiranthi Cooray (fifth from right) and HNB AGM and HNB Sports Club President Hisham Ally (second from right) with Paralympic Bronze medallist, Samitha Dulan Kodithuwakku (second from right) and Paralympic Gold medallist, Dinesh Herath (fourth from left) and National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of Sri Lanka Honorary President, Lieutenant Colonel Deepal Herath (fourth from right) together with the Sri Lankan Paralympic team, coaches and officials.

Sri Lanka’s very first Olympic Gold Medallist together with the Bronze medallist and participant delegation to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, resonated a vibrant and inspirational example to new generation athletes and youth of the country, at a felicitation ceremony organized by the country’s leading private bank, HNB.

Recognising their outstanding performances – which included securing Gold and Bronze medals and establishing a new world record – HNB’s Sustainability Foundation presented plaques and cash rewards to the award winning athletes, coaches and officials who were part of the delegation.

The felicitation ceremony, held at HNB Towers, the Bank’s head office was attended by HNB Managing Director /CEO – Jonathan Alles, Chief Transformation Officer/DGM – L Chiranthi Cooray, Deputy General Manager –Retail & SME Banking – Sanjay Wijemanne and HNB Sports Club President/AGM Hisham Ally, as well as National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of Sri Lanka Honorary President, Lieutenant Colonel Deepal Herath and other officials.

“You have scaled mountains that others only dream of conquering,” HNB Managing Director/CEO, Jonathan Alles said, congratulating the members of the delegation. “We, at HNB draw inspiration from your achievements and hope that the country’s youth and new generation of athletes too will do the same. Sports can help develop qualities which are essential for organizations, particularly teamwork and the country will benefit from youth taking a greater interest in sports activities.”

The highlight of the event was the felicitation of Dinesh Herath – who won Gold in Men’s Javelin Throw F46 – and Samitha Dulan Kodithuwakku – the Bronze medallist in the Men’s Javelin Throw F64. Herath is also the first Sri Lankan to win an Olympic or Paralympic Gold and set a new world record in his event.

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