COLOMBO, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka must increase its exports if it is to overcome the periodic balance of payments (BOP) issue, Minister of Trade Bandula Gunawardena said here on Saturday.
In a speech delivered at the NSBM Green University in the outskirts of capital Colombo, Minister Gunawardena said that increasing the country's exports from the stagnant figure of around 11 billion U.S. dollars was the only way to overcome the periodic BOP issue and a depreciating currency.
Gunawardena noted that Sri Lanka imports 22 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods every year, registering a trade deficit of between 10 to 12 billion U.S. dollars per year, which has put downward pressure on the value of the Sri Lankan rupee against the dollar.
The value of the Sri Lankan rupee against the U.S. dollar has risen from 4.75 after Sri Lanka achieved independence in 1948 to around 185, largely due to chronic BOP issues and the adoption of a floating exchange rate, the trade minister said.
The minister said that the country has been exporting agricultural staples such as tea, rubber and coconut since the era of British colonialism, adding that there is an urgent need to diversify the export basket and move towards non-traditional exports.
Sri Lankan exports had rebounded from a low of 277 million U.S. dollars in April to 1.09 billion U.S. dollars in July. The country hopes to achieve an export target of 10.75 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 despite challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic. Enditem