May 08, Colombo: Sri Lanka's exports to the European Union in the first quarter of this year increased by 16.3 percent to US$ 896 million, the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen said.
Addressing the EU-Sri Lanka Trade Dialogue on Wednesday (May 07) at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo, the Minister said as a market, the 28 countries in the EU has emerged as the number one export destination for products of Sri Lanka.
Last year, the total bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and EU, stood at US$ 4.9 billion, the Minister said adding that Sri Lanka's total exports to the EU market have increased to US$ 3.27 billion, in 2013 from US$ 2.7 billion in 2009.
"Sri Lanka continues to enjoy a favorable, balance of trade with the EU. In 2013, 60 percent of our exports to EU were apparel. The relationship built on apparel trade has become a strategic partnership with major buyers in the EU," Minister Bathiyutheen said.
The second EU-Sri Lanka Trade Dialogue session, organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ECCSL), aims to promote EU-Sri Lanka bilateral trade further.
Bathiyutheen noted that apparel exports to EU significantly grew despite the loss of GSP+ facility in 2010 as a result of Sri Lanka's role as a value creator.
"Today, Sri Lanka has become a value creator to its strategic partners. This significant development, in our exports to the EU is the growth in our apparel exports despite the loss of GSP plus facility in August, 2010. This certainly demonstrates our commitments in adding value not only to our business partners but also to the consumers in the EU countries," he pointed out.
Minister Bathiyutheen said Sri Lanka closely monitors the developments in the EU trade policy, as it could have significant impact on Sri Lanka's exports both directly and indirectly.
"For example, the recent cross cumulating facility provided for SAARC and ASEAN Regional Groups would help Sri Lanka to source inputs of ASEAN countries and be eligible for GSP concessions," he added.
According to Minister Bathiyutheen, Sri Lanka continues to engage with the European Commission for further strengthening its trade and, economic relationship.
Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Sri Lanka and Maldives David Daly and Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion Faiszer Musthapha also participated in the dialogue.