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Sri Lanka's apparel exports readying to cross US$ 5 billionTuesday, March 31, 2015 > 09:27:14
Within a day after Sri Lanka and the European Union (EU) held discussions in Colombo to reinstate the sought after GSP Plus trade concession to boost Sri Lanka's apparel exports, another coveted technical breakthrough has been extended to Sri Lanka through a surging EU economy, Ministry of Industry and Commerce said in a statement.
This support stream connects not only to Lanka's finished apparels but even its manufacturing core itself-opening along with it a new market destination even beyond EU- called as the next economic supermodel of the world, according to the statement.
During a meeting with the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on March 25 at the EDB in Colombo, Ms. Nesli Almufti, the Stockholm based Trade Policy Advisor of Swedish Government's National Board of Trade-Open Trade Gate has informed the Minister of the opportunity.
"Sweden is highly innovative in textile and fashion designs and we are also among the top apparel industry technical research and development leaders. We are focusing on extending sector-based support to Lanka products. Boras Textile Fashion Centre a starting point for Sri Lanka and we can link you to Boras so that the process could start" said Ms. Almufti.
Joining Advisor Almufti was Stockholm based Helena Hafgren (Swedish Apparel and Fashion Expert Consultant to National Board of Trade-Open Trade Gate).
"We have a high standing in fashion design and more importantly, we are ranked at top in apparel research and development," she said.
According to Ms. Almufti, Swedish Government's National Board of Trade-Open Trade Gate, work with more than 100 Donor Approved List countries of OECD to encourage their exports into Sweden.
The Swedish team is in Sri Lanka since they were called for support by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Stockholm and.
"Sweden is also the gateway to what is called as the next economic supermodel in the world -it's the four country premium "Nordic market" of which Norway is not part of but could be accessed through Sweden-also to Iceland. Sweden as well as Nordic region continues with its strong growth despite recent EU downturn. This Nordic market is not worried about costs of your products. Nordic market with Sweden is highly developed and there's growing demand for niche products from abroad in them-the more expensive and up market variety. One reason we are encouraging imports from countries such as Sri Lanka is that one third of our exports consist of high quality imports coming to Sweden. Today's value and supply chains are no more centered in one country to one country. Among our global brands are Skype, H&M and Ikea."
"We believe that Boras Textile Fashion Centre area and its University close to Sweden's second largest city Gothenburg are famous for apparel R&D including smart textiles, high tech textiles, apparel technical incubators, Museum of Textile History, and the Nordic Textile Library and that's a starting point for Sri Lanka and we can link you to Boras so that the process could start."
GDP per capita in Nordic region is higher than Eurozone and lately Nordic GDP has also been growing faster than the Eurozone's. Sweden, with its $500+ Bn of GDP, is the seventh largest economy in EU. According to the European Commission, Swedish GDP will be "the fastest growing in 2015 at 3.3% within 'Nordic region' (European Commission also has the GSP Plus decision making authority on Sri Lanka). Sri Lanka and EU commenced work on the recovery of the GSP Plus from EU on 24 March in Colombo with the arrival of a high level GSP Taskforce directly from Brussels.
"I am so pleased of technical support from a highly developed economy to our apparels which is also timely since our prospects to recover GSP Plus and boost apparel exports are brighter after we started work with visiting EU GSP Taskforce yesterday 24 March" said the Minister Bathiudeen, responding to Trade Policy Advisor Almufti, and added: "Apparels are Sri Lanka's topmost merchandise exports earner and we are almost ready to achieve the US$ 5 billion export milestone in it. Our apparel exports in 2014 were at US$ 4.9 billion increasing by 9.2% from 2013. We believe GSP Plus door may open for us. Sri Lankan apparel sector's manufacturing now at G4 levels with even the large global fashion brand portfolio owners such as PVH Corporation directly partnering with us on their speed orders."
"Our Industry Completing Cycle is a short 4-5 days up-to shipping, and we can readily supply premium apparels to Sweden and Nordic region as a result. Close to one third of our exports to Sweden are apparels," the Minister added.
According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, in 2014, Sri Lanka's total trade with Sweden stood at US$ 125 million, of which US$ 71.05 million were exports-of which 31% were apparels. Sri Lanka's biggest imports from Sweden were cellular and wireless products in 2014.