Clothing and apparel is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner, accounting for over half of export receipts. Sri Lanka's traditional primary exports have been tea, natural rubber, and coconut products, especially desiccated coconut and coconut oil. However, the share of total export earnings accounted for by these three commodities declined steadily from 87% in 1972 to 48% in 1985 and 16% in 1999; tea decreased from its 58% share of total export value in 1972 to a low of8.2% in 1995. Declining export shares for the country's agriculturally based exports are due to adverse weather conditions in recent years as well as rapid growth in the export earnings of industrial products.
In 1999 garments accounted for 51% of Sri Lankan exports. Other commodity exports are tea (14%), diamonds and other precious gems (2.9%), and coconut products (1.7%). Sri Lanka produces a large portion of the world's tea exports (25%).
In 1999 Sri Lanka's imports were distributed among the following categories:
Principal trading partners in 2000 (in millions of US dollars) were as follows:
|China (inc. Hong Kong)||69||767||-698|