Apparel has the biggest potential to raise Sri Lanka’s exports to the United Kingdom, according to a new report on Sri Lanka-British trade. Bilateral ties between the two countries have grown over the last two decades, with average bilateral trade volumes in the last ten years topping $1.4 bn. The trade balance has been in favour of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan Minister of development strategies and international trade Malik Samarawickrama said apparel exports are an area for building on and strengthening the linkages between British retailers and brands and Sri Lankan manufacturers. He was speaking at the launch of Sri Lanka-United Kingdom Bilateral Trade and Investment report at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Apparel is the top export item to the UK. Sri Lanka’s primary imports from the UK include high quality British machinery, equipment, automobiles and food products. There are further opportunities in fast moving consumer goods, pharmaceutical and technology services, the report noted.

Colombo was keen on some preferential trade arrangement with the United Kingdom, following the latter’s exit from the European Union, ideally the continuation of benefits equivalent to the generalised system of preferences (GSP) Plus, and leading towards a free trade agreement in the future, according to a report.

Sri Lanka can offer ethically-manufactured, environmentally-responsible, high-quality products for the UK market, and our preferential access needs to continue regardless of Britain’s membership of the EU, the Minister added.