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Sri Lanka’s Exports Fall 0.6% as Agriculture Sales Decline

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka’s exports fell the most in three months in January as the island’s sales of agricultural products, such as tea, declined.

Overseas sales fell 0.6 percent from a year earlier to $917.7 million, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said in a statement today, after rising 24.3 percent in December. Imports rose 20.1 percent to $1.88 billion.

The island nation aims for shipments to total $20 billion by 2020 as it reconnects with global commerce after a 26-year civil war ended in 2009. The central bank devalued the rupee by 3 percent in November to boost exports as Europe’s debt crisis sapped demand, and removed a trading band on Feb. 9, pushing the currency to a record low.

The fall in exports “was largely attributable to the decline in earnings from agricultural exports and higher base in January 2011,” the central bank said in the statement.

Earnings from textiles and garment exports in January rose 1.6 percent to $366.6 million, the report showed. Agricultural shipments declined 13.9 percent to $181.5 million. The value of industrial exports rose 3.3 percent to $732.6 million.

Exports make up about a fifth of the South Asian nation’s $50 billion economy, with apparel makers contracted to companies such as Marks & Spencer Group Plc and Gap Inc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anusha Ondaatjie in Colombo at anushao@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hari Govind at hgovind@bloomberg.net

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