$ 122 b Japanese apparel market craving more Lankan-made supplies
Tuesday, 1 October 2013 00:49
“We are looking for more!”: Eriko, Japanese Councillor
“We are highly encouraged!”: Rishad
Bilateral trade tops $ 770 m
“Lanka progressing well”: Japan
Japan, one of the three largest apparel markets in the world with a $ 122 b apparel market, is eagerly looking to source much higher volumes of Lankan made apparels.
“Lankan apparels are of high quality but unfortunately, not much of it is coming to the Japanese market. We are looking for more. Therefore I request you to expand your apparel exports to Japan,” announced Yamatani Eriko, Member of the Japanese House of Councillors on 27 September in Colombo.
Councillor Eriko was addressing Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen during her courtesy call on Bathiudeen. Eriko was leading a six-member delegation to Colombo consisting of members from the Upper House of the Japan’s National Diet.
“Lanka-Japan bilateral trade has a long history. In fact trade is one of the important aspects of Lanka-Japan relations. Ceylon Tea is well known in Japan. I came to know that not only Ceylon Tea, but there are many other well-known Lankan products such as apparels and ceramics being exported to Japan. In fact, Sri Lankan apparels are of high quality but unfortunately, not much of it is coming to the Japanese market. We are looking for more. Therefore I request you to expand your apparel exports to Japan. We are also happy to note that Sri Lanka is now a middle income country. Sri Lanka has progressed well,” Eriko said.
In 2012, Sri Lanka’s apparel exports stood at $ 2.77 b. Japan’s share in it was less than 1% at $ 27 m. Japan was the 14th ranked buyer of Lankan apparels in 2012, the leading three buyers being US, UK and Italy (this is apart from the ‘made up textile articles’ category of exports to Japan which stood at $ 0.38 m in 2012).
More than 40% of the Japanese consumers choose their apparels based on quality, according to 2010 survey by Cotton Incorporated. According to Business Wire, the Japanese apparel and accessory markets is worth $ 122 b (2011). The market is expected to grow by 1-2% a year through 2018 along with growth for appetite for foreign fashion brands.
According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, the total trade turnover with Japan, which stood at US$ 493 m in 2002, has increased to $ 770.11 m by 2012. Due to the imports of high value motor vehicles, the balance of trade with Japan is unfavourable to Sri Lanka.
“I am highly encouraged to hear that Japanese markets are eager for more and more Lankan made apparels,” responded Bathiudeen. “World class Sri Lankan apparels have now acquired the garment without guilt tag, which will be more good news for the Japanese buyers. There are investment opportunities in apparel sector for Japanese investors in Sri Lanka.”
“Japan has been supportive to Sri Lanka in many areas with its aid funding, for which I thank the Government of Japan. A major trade fair coinciding with the forthcoming CHOGM event is scheduled in Colombo for which a big delegation organised by JETRO is expected. JETRO is doing a wonderful job to promote Lanka-Japan trade. I invite the Japanese business to explore them during their CHOGM visit,” added Bathiudeen.
Until 2007, Japan was the largest donor to Sri Lanka. In March 2013, Japan decided to extend loans of Yen 41.1 b and grant aid at Yen 2.7 b to infrastructure development and disaster prevention, among others.
Also taking part in the discussions were Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Nobuhito Hobo, EDB Director General Sujata Weerakoone, Advisor to Minister of Industry and Commerce Himali Jinadasa, Acting Director General of Commerce R.D.S. Kumararatne and Deputy Director of Commerce D.W. Jinadasa.