Shortage of Suzuki car mirrors reflects Sri Lanka’s growing economic crisis – Reuters

February 18, 2022 by No Comments

COLOMBO, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Car spare parts dealers in Sri Lanka’s main city of Colombo are receiving a steady stream of customers looking for what is fast becoming a prized commodity in the island nation – side mirrors for Suzuki’s compact Wagon R.

The scramble for the humble product highlights rising economic risks for the South Asian country as imports slump, foreign exchange reserves plummet and a potential sovereign default looms.

Suzuki’s boxy, five-seater vehicle is hugely popular in Sri Lanka, given its low running costs. With some 30,000 of the cars sold over the past four years in a nation that has relatively high road crash rates, replacement side mirrors are commonly sought in the spare parts shops scattered across the suburb of Nugegoda.

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“Everyone is looking for Wagon R parts,” said Supun Deshak, a salesman at one store in the district where shop fronts are piled high with reconditioned spare parts.

The difficulty is that importers are struggling to source car parts because they are deemed non-essential imports under rules drawn up by the government to save dwindling foreign exchange reserves after the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Reserves have plummeted to $2.36 billion from $7.5 billion in January 2020. At the same time, the government faces a debt obligation of around $4 billion this year, and local banks are often unable to provide dollars that importers need.

“The biggest concern right now is the difficulty in importing spare parts for maintaining the existing fleet of vehicles,” said Yasendra Amerasinghe, chairman of the Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA), which represents the country’s major vehicle importers.

The CMTA estimates imports of car spare parts will fall by around 30% in value terms this fiscal year, compared to …….



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