Sept 20, Colombo: Sri Lanka has begun boosting its world class porcelain, glass and red-clay industry segments with a host of new initiatives and has also realized that the red-clay sector that is now surging as a result of next year's Asbestos ban, packs considerable promise for the economy, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said.
Minister Bathiudeen addressing the 14th AGM of Sri Lanka Ceramics and Glass Council on 15 September at Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo said Sri Lanka's clay and quartz are of high quality and the ceramic and glass products are not damaged easily and therefore, Sri Lankan products are very competitive in global markets.
Joining the event were Managing Director & CEO of Piramal Glass Ceylon PLC and President of the Sri Lanka Ceramic & Glass Council (SLCGC) Sanjay Tiwari and nearly 100 representatives from the ceramics, glass and red-clay industries of Sri Lanka.
The Minister noted that the decline of total ceramics and glass exports last year to $ 50 million from 2015's $61 million appears to be temporary since this is the first time a decline is seen after years.
He said to sustain competitiveness it is necessary to keep production costs low and the Ministry is looking into ways to reduce the cost of fuel given to the industry.
"I assure you, that we are still continuing to look for a solutions and have instructed my officials to work on this and to continue discussions with Petroleum Ministry and other fuel vendors to seek low cost fuels," he said.
Sri Lanka's ceramic and glass industries employ a workforce of around 55000.
The Minister also told the gathering that surveys to find clay and other mineral deposits in the Western and Central Province were completed and they were successful.
"We are also working to develop our red clay industry. Our clay is high quality and is in demand for roof tile making due to the Asbestos imports ban starting next year. We also assisted SLS certification program to create a good image of local red clay industry. With the support of National Engineering Research and Development (NERD) Centre we set up Sri Lanka's first roof tile drying center in Dankotuwa. We sent 30 Lankan red clay industrialists for technological training to Belgium and China," the Minister informed.
In September 2016, on a proposal by President Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka announced it was banning the importation of Asbestos from 2018, spurring a new wave of red-clay roof tile production in the country, a part of which is now successfully exported to UK as well - and the exporters saying they are unable to meet the demand