Sri Lanka Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

Sri Lanka is attempting to sustain economic growth while maintaining macroeconomic stability under the IMF program it began in 2016. The government's high debt payments and bloated civil service, which have contributed to historically high budget deficits, remain a concern. Government debt is about 79% of GDP and remains among the highest of the emerging markets. In the coming years, Sri Lanka will need to balance its elevated debt repayment schedule with its need to maintain adequate foreign exchange reserves.

In May 2016, Sri Lanka regained its preferential trade status under the European Union’s Generalized System of Preferences Plus, enabling many of its firms to export products, including its top export garments, tax free to the EU. In 2017, Parliament passed a new Inland Revenue Act in an effort to increase tax collection and broaden the tax base in response to recommendations made under its IMF program. In November 2017, the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering and terrorist financing listed Sri Lanka as non-compliant, but reported subsequently that Sri Lanka had made good progress in implementing an action plan to address deficiencies.

Tourism has experienced strong growth in the years since the resolution of the government's 26-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. In 2017, the government promulgated plans to transform the country into a knowledge-based, export-oriented Indian Ocean hub by 2025.

Real GDP growth rate

2.29% (2019 est.)

3.32% (2018 est.)

3.58% (2017 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

4.3% (2019 est.)

4.2% (2018 est.)

6.5% (2017 est.)

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: CCC (2020)

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: CCC+ (2020)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$285.141 billion (2019 est.)

$278.776 billion (2018 est.)

$269.853 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$84.016 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$13,078 (2019 est.)

$12,865 (2018 est.)

$12,584 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

Gross national saving

25.3% of GDP (2019 est.)

27.3% of GDP (2018 est.)

29% of GDP (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 7.8% (2017 est.)

industry: 30.5% (2017 est.)

services: 61.7% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 62% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 8.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 26.3% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 10.2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 21.9% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -29.1% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 61.8 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 88.2 (2020)

Trading score: 73.3 (2020)

Enforcement score: 41.2 (2020)

Agricultural products

rice, coconuts, sugar cane, plantains, milk, tea, cassava, maize, poultry, coir


processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; tourism, shipping; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining, information technology services, construction

Industrial production growth rate

4.6% (2017 est.)

Labor force

8 million (2020 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 27%

industry: 26%

services: 47% (31 December 2016)

Unemployment rate

4.83% (2019 est.)

4.44% (2018 est.)

Population below poverty line

4.1% (2016 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

39.8 (2016 est.)

46 (1995)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3%

highest 10%: 32.2% (2012 est.)


revenues: 12.07 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 16.88 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

13.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-5.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

79.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

79.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: covers central government debt and excludes debt instruments directly owned by government entities other than the treasury (e.g. commercial bank borrowings of a government corporation); the data includes treasury debt held by foreign entities as well as intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement; sub-national entities are usually not permitted to sell debt instruments

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$10 million (2019 est.)

-$17 million (2018 est.)


$16.322 billion (2019 est.)

$15.238 billion (2018 est.)

$15.166 billion (2017 est.)

Exports - partners

United States 24%, India 8%, United Kingdom 7%, Germany 7% (2019)

Exports - commodities

clothing and apparel, tea, used tires, rubber products, precious stones, cinnamon (2019)


$24.984 billion (2019 est.)

$26.521 billion (2018 est.)

$26.063 billion (2017 est.)

Imports - partners

India 24%, China 23%, Singapore 7%, United Arab Emirates 6%, Malaysia 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, textiles, gold, cars, broadcasting equipment (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$7.959 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$6.019 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt - external

$55.332 billion (2019 est.)

$52.567 billion (2018 est.)

Exchange rates

Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) per US dollar -

185.8 (2020 est.)

181.2 (2019 est.)

178.545 (2018 est.)

135.86 (2014 est.)

130.57 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Sri Lanka on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Sri Lanka 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Sri Lanka 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.