Apparel exports must be expanded to cater to the growing demand for Sri Lankan made products in the Japanese market, according to Japan’s House of Councillors Member Yamatani Eriko.
“Sri Lankan apparels are of high quality but unfortunately, the supply of Sri Lankan apparels to the demand of the Japanese market is not sufficient at the moment. Therefore, we request steps be taken to expand exports of Sri Lankan apparels to Japan.
Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Japan has a very long history and trade is one of the most important aspects of our bilateral relations. Ceylon tea and other Sri Lankan products such as apparels and ceramics are already popular in Japan,” Eriko stated.
Leading a six-member delegation from the upper House of Japan’s legislature, the National Diet, Eriko made the comments during a meeting with Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.
The Japanese apparel market is currently estimated to be as large as US $ 122 billion. Total exports of Sri Lankan apparels reached US $ 2.77 billion in 2012. However, Japan is only the 14th largest buyer of Sri Lankan apparels, accounting for less than 1 percent of export revenues.
Responding to Eriko’s comments, Bathiudeen expressed confidence in the potential for expansion of Sri Lankan apparel exports to Japan, while also welcoming Japanese investment into the Sri Lankan apparel sector.
Bathiudeen added that the potential for exploration of investment opportunities in Sri Lanka by Japanese businesses was particularly suitable in the backdrop of Sri Lanka hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGAM) in November this year.
Also participating in the discussions were Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Nobuhito Hobo, Export Development Board Director General Sujata Weerakoone, Industry and Commerce Ministry Advisor Himali Jinadasa, Acting Director General of Commerce R.D.S. Kumararatne and Deputy Director of Commerce D.W. Jinadasa.
Total trade between Sri Lankan and Japan crossed US $ 770.11 million in 2012 as compared with US $ 493 million in 2002. The trade balance is skewed in favour of Japan largely due to motor vehicle imports.