Export data - EU Imports per HS-4 Digit Categories - US Imports per Quota Category

Sri Lanka Apparel Exports in 2016 Country Report

Apparel exports from Sri Lanka have stagnated in the last year, reflecting a surge in sales of knit clothing, especially underwear, whereas shipments of woven apparel were struggling. Exports should now be boosted by the EU's decision to grant GSP-Plus preferential access to Sri Lankan products. Our statistical tables provide a comprehensive view of latest export trends with export data over first half 2011-2016. Detailed EU and US import data per category of products over 1st half 2016 are also available.

Sri Lanka's apparel exports have stagnated in the last year but they could find opportunities to rebound in the second part of 2017.

Total apparel exports have only risen 1% in dollar terms over the 12-month period at $4.6 billion.

Shipments to the European Union have gained a negligible 0.5% whereas exports to the US market were down 0.3%.

Sri Lankan exporters are still heavily dependent on both markets accounting for 87% of their total shipments in the past year.

The island has actually not benefited from the recovery of the European market after the euro has stopped falling in 2016.

EU's clothing imports from Sri Lanka have dropped more than 10% in volume terms in the third quarter, whereas total EU imports were rising 5.1%.

Sri Lanka's share of the European import market has therefore dropped from 1.43% in third quarter 2016 down to 1.22% a year later, in volume terms.

In HS chapter 51 of knit clothing however, shipments have surged 23% whereas imports from Sri Lanka were falling 15.4% in the HS chapter 52 of woven clothing.

On the US market, knit apparel exports have similarly risen whereas woven apparel shipments were falling.

As reflected by our category tables below, sales of trousers have plunged to the US market whereas lingerie exports have further surged.

Man-made fiber underwear from Sri Lanka has gained 20.4% in volume terms in the first three quarters last year, boosting the market share from 33.6% to 41%, still in volume terms.

This is of course a remarkable success on a niche market where Sri Lanka has developed its skills for many years.

After resisting in 2016, Sri Lankan apparel exports should now rebound thanks to two new and decisive pieces of information.

First, the election of Donald Trump has resulted in the death of the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) which would have offered a duty-free access to Vietnamese goods on the US market and directly threaten Sri Lanka on the US market, as a result.

Second and most important, the European Union will grant again the GSP-plus regime to Sri Lankan shipments which will take advantage of sharply reduced or even zero tariffs at European borders.

The GSP-Plus has been offered to Sri Lanka after the tsunami of 2004 before being withdrawan over poor human rights records at the end of the civil war.

With a new government now leading the country, Colombo has been able regaining the status which requires to comply with a long list of international agreements.

For a country confronted with relatively higher labor costs than in most other rival nations in Asia, the GSP-Plus  offers a decisive comparative advantage.




























US Apparel Imports per Category (csv file)



























EU Clothing Imports: Sri Lanka v. China per Category (.csv file)




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