Aug 222013
Trade deficit widens in June
Sri Lanka’s June trade deficit expanded 25 percent Year-onYear (YoY) to US $ 829.1 million amid a sharp increase in import expenditure, though trade gap for the first six months narrowed 7.1 percent YoY to US $ 4.55 billion.

The export earnings during the month improved 6.8 percent YoY to US $ 807.4 million with all three export categories reporting positive growths, helped by the depreciation of the Lankan rupee against the US dollar.

The export income from agricultural products rose 8.1 percent YoY to US $ 192.6 million with tea export revenue improving 14.5 percent YoY to US $ 116 million.

Revenue from industrial products rose 6.3 percent YoY to US $ 610.8 million with revenues from textile and garment and rubber products exports rising 14.9 and 7.7 percent to US $ 357 million and US $ 6.9 million, respectively.

“Garment exports to the USA increased by 24.8 percent, yearon-year, while garment exports to the EU increased by 6.7 percent YoY in June 2013.”

“Earnings from exports of machinery and mechanical appliances increased by 25.5 percent, led by increased exports of electrical machinery and equipment and home appliances,” the Central Bank said.

However, the cumulative export earnings for the first six months declined 4.5 percent YoY to US $ 4.66 billion.

Import expenditure during June rose as much as 15.3 percent YoY to US $ 1.63 billion, led by higher expenditure on crude oil imports. The June oil bill rose 45.5 percent YoY to US $ 582.2 million.

“The average import price of crude oil rose by 9 percent YoY to US $ 10.25 per barrel in June 2013, while the import volume of petroleum in June was also significantly higher on YoY basis due to increased imports of crude oil,” the Central Bank said.

On a cumulative basis however, the oil bill declined 12.8 percent YoY to US $ 2.34 billion.

Import expenditure on consumer goods rose 18.7 percent YoY to US $ 274 million of which expenditure on food and beverages and other consumer goods increased 11.8 percent and 24.7 percent YoY to US $ 120.8 million and US $ 153.3 million, respectively.

“Among other imported items that contributed significantly to the increased import expenditure in June 2013 were vehicles, classified under consumer goods.

“Increased imports of vehicles could be attributed mainly to the recent appreciation of the rupee against several currencies including the Japanese yen, due to currency movements,” the Central Bank said.

The expenditure on investment goods declined 1 percent YoY to US $ 269.6 million. The expenditure on machinery and equipment and building material imports rose 8.5 percent and 2 percent YoY to US $ 138.6 million and US $ 92.9 million, respectively. Transport equipment imports fell 29.1 percent YoY to US $ 37.7 million.

The cumulative expenditure on import expenditure however declined 5.8 percent YoY to US $ 9.21 billion.

Jul 242013
Hezbollah military wing added to EU terror list
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[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:16 No Comment]

Foreign ministers of the European Union have reached a consensus to classify the military wing of the Lebanese based militant-political group Hezbollah as a terrorist group. This decision was arrived at on Monday after Foreign Ministers of the EU met at Brussels and moved to place Hezbollah’s military arm under the EU terror list. Hezbollah, which functions as a legitimate political party in Lebanon, as such was not banned. In a statement they condemned the EU’s “aggressive and unjust decision which is not based on any proof or evidence”, Reuters reported, the group further alleging that the US and Israel were behind this move. Hezbollah’s active support to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is also claimed to be a factor influencing EU’s move.

“Britain and the Netherlands have long pressed their EU peers to impose sanctions on the Shi’ite Muslim group, citing evidence it was behind an attack in the coastal Bulgarian city of Burgas a year ago that killed five Israelis and their driver,” Reuters reported on Monday.

The US had designated Hezbollah as a terrorist much before. Israel had also been campaigning in the EU calling for a ban on the Hezbollah.

Though the EU had resisted a total ban on the Lebanese group, its decision to ban the military wing has been welcomed by Israeli circles.

“Now the EU has joined the growing world consensus that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization,” the Israel Defense Forces tweeted.

Hezbollah’s military wing now joins the LTTE, Hamas, and PKK in the list of organizations banned by the EU.

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Jan 192013
EU criticizes impeachment of CJ
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[DailyMirror, Saturday, 19 January 2013 09:33 No Comment]

The European Union has followed with considerable concern the recent impeachment process against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake of Sri Lanka, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said.

“The separation of powers is inherent in any democracy which respects the rule of law. It follows that the independence of the judicial branch cannot be made subject to actions by any other branch of government,” commented Ashton She called on Sri Lanka to ensure that its international obligations, and in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are implemented.

The EU foreign policy chief also urged the Sri Lankan government “to respect the right to peaceful protest and to ensure the safety both of Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake and of all human rights defenders.”

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