Export earnings increased by 5.6 percent (year-on-year) while import expenditure declined by 19.3 percent during the first quarter of 2019, the Central bank said.
The deficit in the trade account contracted to 1,661 million US dollars from 2,982 million dollars recorded in the first quarter of 2018.
In March 2019, the deficit in the trade account narrowed to 592 million dollars, compared to 871 million dollars in March 2018.
The considerable reduction in the trade deficit in March 2019 was due to a notable decline in import expenditure by 12.6 percent (year-on-year) which was further supported by the increase of export earnings by 2.6 percent (year-on-year).
Merchandise exports recorded the highest ever monthly earnings of US dollars 1,137 million in March 2019 registering a moderate growth of 2.6 per cent, due to the higher base in March 2018.
The growth in exports was driven by the improved performance in industrial and mineral exports while agricultural exports declined.
Under industrial exports, earnings from textiles and garment exports increased notably in March 2019, recording the highest ever monthly earnings which surpassed US dollars 500 million for the first time. This growth was mainly due to higher demand for garment exports from traditional markets, namely the USA and the EU, as well as non-traditional markets such as Canada, Australia and China. Export earnings from textiles and other textile articles also increased in March 2019.
Earnings from petroleum exports increased in March 2019, reversing the declining trend observed during the past three months, led by an increase in both volume and prices of bunker and aviation fuel.
Earnings from tourism in March recorded a growth of 4.7 percent (year-on-year), while during the first quarter of 2019 tourism earnings recorded a growth of 4.6 percent over the corresponding period of 2018.
Expenditure on merchandise imports declined considerably in March 2019 by 12.6 percent, on a year-on-year basis, to 1,729 million dollars, recording a decline for the fifth consecutive month.
This reduction was mainly due to the effect of the policy measures implemented by the Central Bank and the government to discourage certain non-essential imports and the significant depreciation of the currency.
Workers’ remittances amounted to 571 million dollars in March 2019.
On a cumulative basis, workers’ remittances amounted to US dollars 1,617 million during the first quarter of 2019.