Sri Lanka apparel exports cross US$5bn with record US holiday season

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s garment and textile exports in 2018 had grown 5 percent from a year earlier to 5 billion US dollars with a growth in both the US and European markets,  the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) said.

JAAF data showed the US market growing 5.8 percent to 2.3 billion US dollars for Sri Lankan garment exporters, with the highest growth coming in March, August, September, November, and December.

Exports to the US in December were 218 million US dollars, up 6.9 percent from a year earlier. This was a historic high for December, breaking the 214 million US dollar record set in 2014.

Exports were higher despite Victoria’s Secret, one of Sri Lanka’s largest apparel customers, recording a 6 percent fall in sales for December, and a 2 percent fall in sales for 2018.

A report from credit card provider Mastercard showed the US having the best holiday season (October-December) retail sales growth in six years, with apparel sales growing 7.1 percent from 2017.

US Census Bureau advance monthly reports showed apparel sales growing in October and November, but December statistics were delayed due to the US federal government shutdown.

Sri Lankan apparel exports to the European Union (EU) in 2018 grew 3.9 percent to 2.1 billion US dollars.

Sri Lanka had regained the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus tariff benefit from the EU in July 2017.

The first 12 months benefit from the change ran from August 2017 till July 2018, during which exports grew at double digit rates in some months.

After July 2018, when the base effect of GSP Plus wore off, growth had slowed down to low single digits, with exports falling in August and September.

Exports to EU in December 2018 grew 1.6 percent to 188 million US dollars from a year earlier.

Apparel exports to other countries grew 5.6 percent to 658 million US dollars in 2018.

Exports to other countries fell 1.6 percent from a year earlier to 62 million US dollars.

The Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association said it is now focusing on other countries such as Brazil, China, and India for export growth, due to static markets in the US and Europe. (Colombo/Jan30/2019 – SB)

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