Sri Lankas apparel exports were in growth in the first nine months of the year

Sri Lanka's apparel exports were in growth in the first nine months of the year

Sri Lanka's apparel exports were up by more than 5% in the first nine months of the year, new figures show, boosted by growth in demand from their largest markets – the US and Europe.

In the period January to September 2018, apparel exports reached US$3.73bn from $3.55bn in 2018, representing growth of 5.1%, according to figures from the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association. This compares to a decline in exports of 0.6% recorded in 2017 on the year before.

Exports to the US, Sri Lanka's largest export market for apparel, were up 5.7% to $1.66bn from $1.57bn last year. To the EU, exports grew 4.6% to $1.58bn. For the month of September, apparel exports jumped 9.2% to $451m from $413m in the year-ago period.

Sri Lanka has seen its apparel exports grow 25.2% over the last five years, from $2.98bn in 2013 to $3.73 in 2018.

According to the re:source by just-style strategic planning tool, apparel and textiles make up Sri Lanka's largest export sector, accounting for around 47% of total exports. The country's success as a supplier has been bolstered by reliability, product innovation, design services, strict compliance with international standards, and investment in the industry's first 'green' garment factories. It is also moving from a manufacturer driven business to an end-to-end fully-integrated apparel solutions provider. 

Sri Lanka benefits from trade preference agreements with Canada, Japan and the EU. It has been looking at ways to grow its apparel export business further, and last month Sri Lanka's government announced it was cutting the rate of VAT on fabric imports from 15% to 5% in a bid to help the apparel industry.