ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s garment exports are expected to drop till April 2020 due to poor conditions in key markets after growing 5.1 percent to a record 5.3 billion US dollars in sales in 2019, a top industry official said.
“Starting from last December to April 2020, we will see a drop in apparel exports because the order levels we have got are low due to negative customer performance, especially in the UK market due to Brexit,” Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA) Chairman Rehan Lakhany said.
“The trend we saw last year will continue because some of the customers have moved to Africa and other destinations for sourcing, but we have good signs it will revive after March-April”.
The apparel exports in 2019 had grown 5.1 percent to 5.3 billion US dollars from a year earlier with a growth in the US market and an expansion in internal capacity of manufacturers with fresh investments, he said.
The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) data showed the US market growing 3.3 percent to 2.36 billion US dollars for Sri Lankan garment exporters in 2019.
Comparatively, exports to US in December marginally fell 0.9 percent or 216 million US dollars from 218 million US dollars in 2018.
US Census Bureau advance monthly reports showed apparel sales stable in December 2019 and the overall sales for 2019 recorded a 0.6 percent fall.
Exports to the European Union grew 5 percent or 2.2 billion US dollars in 2019 from 2.1 billion in 2018.
However, it recorded a 6.8 percent fall to 176 million US dollars in December 2019 from 188 million US dollars a year earlier.
Apparel exports to EU has been volatile throughout the year due to uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
Exports to minor markets grew 11.6 percent to 734.50 million US dollars from 658.00 million US dollars in 2018.
Lakhany said he is expecting better preferential tariffs from Indian and Chinese markets and the fabric park in Eravur would boost exports in the future.