British High Commissioner John Rankin said he will encourage more UK companies to consider Sri Lanka as an ethical and profitable trading partner and source of supply, appreciating the Government’s efforts to improve the business environment by tackling existing barriers to trade and streamlining bureaucracy.
He made these observations speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Apparel Sourcing Association (SLASA).
The High Commissioner said the passing of the US resolution on Sri Lanka in Geneva last week would not have an impact on the country’s ties with the UK, the rest of the EU, US or even India despite controversy regarding the matter.
“I see no reason however why the resolution should negatively impact the trade and investment relationship between Sri Lanka and those countries that supported the resolution,” he said.
He said the resilience of Sri Lankan garment products in western markets is a testament to Sri Lanka being a primary source of high quality, innovative and affordable clothing.
The British High Commissioner said that he has visited a number of clothing factories and impressed with what he has seen so far – clean, modern factories with good working conditions for their staff. And he applauds the continued industry move away from low-value products towards high-value niche garments, using the latest high-tech fabrics.
“I was impressed to learn that for the Athens Olympics, the Fast Skin swimwear by UK owned Speedo was manufactured in Sri Lanka. I also understand that Nike’s track and field outfits for the London Olympics will be made in Sri Lanka. So let us hope that sports clothing from Sri Lanka will be worn by those winning medals in London this summer,” he added. Despite challenging times for Western economies, I believe that the prospects for bilateral trade between the UK and Sri Lanka remain bright, the High Commissioner said.
In 2011 Sri Lankan exports to the UK totalled over US$1.2 billion (or £804 million), and imports from the UK were worth some US$245 million (or £155 million). That made the UK Sri Lanka’s second largest trading partner by volume. And there are over 100 companies in Sri Lanka with a UK affiliation including major companies in the garment sourcing sector such as Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Triumph and Next.