The minister in a statement on Facebook states that 1) Sri Lanka’s total exports are USD 12.3 billion in 2020 and USD 15.12 billion in 2021 and depicts in his graph that 2) total exports have been on an increasing path and have further increased by 23% in 2021. To evaluate this claim, FactCheck.lk consulted the export statistics of Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and the Export Development Board (EDB).
The term exports are used to mean either exports of goods only or exports of goods and services. The minister’s numbers are higher than the exports of goods, so he is taken as referring to the exports of goods and services.
On the first claim, the numbers quoted by the Minister of USD 12.3 billion and USD 15.12 billion are numbers reported by the EDB. However, these figures are not the total exports of goods and services, because the EDB excludes the category of travel services from the values they report on export of goods and services. Exhibit 1 provides the full value of exports of goods and services as reported by the CBSL alongside the partial value reported by the EDB.
On the second claim, Sri Lanka did record a growth of 23% in terms of the EDB numbers. However, this growth does not pertain to the increase in total exports of goods and services because it excludes travel services. Furthermore, the graph depicting an increasing trend in exports from prior to 2020 is also incorrect. This is because the partial and full exports reported by the EDB and the Central Bank both declined drastically in 2020 and was not on an upward trend as depicted. (NB: The figures reported by the EDB for 2021 are also lower than the figures they reported for 2019).
The minister has (a) correctly cited the EDB’s partial calculation of goods and services exports, and (b) correctly calculated the percentage increase in those figures in 2021. However, he has (c) misunderstood these figures as representing total exports of goods and services, and (d) incorrectly depicted a continually increasing growth path on exports instead of the actual steep decline and high level of recovery.
Therefore, we classify his statement as PARTLY TRUE.
*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.
Export Development Bank, Export Performance Indicators 2020, available at: https://www.srilankabusiness.com/ebooks/export-performance-indicators-of-sri-lanka-2011-2020.pdf [last 31 January 2022]
Export Development Bank, Sri Lanka’s Export Performance for Year 2021, available at: https://www.srilankabusiness.com/news/sri-lankas-export-performance-for-year-2021.html
Central Bank of Sri Lanka, External Statistics, available at https: https://www.cbsl.gov.lk/en/statistics/statistical-tables/external-sector [last 31 January 2022]