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Sri Lanka targets global apparel hub status

Sri Lanka finance minister Mangala Samaraweera feels his country has tremendous potential to become a hub for design, development and logistics in the global apparel industry. At the Annual General Meeting of Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association, Samaraweera said the government is particularly keen to see the development of local design, innovative product development and research and development. He said Sri Lanka should one day be seen as the hub for design, development and logistics for all major global apparel players which would enable true value-creation in the apparel industry.

The Minister says liberalisation of the shipping and freight forwarding agency sectors would also contribute to more competitive freight rates for Sri Lanka's exporters, including apparel exporters and this measure would in turn help attract international investment to would enable Sri Lanka to become a logistics hub. A world-class logistics network is also essential to help connect with global value chains. Significant steps are being taken to enhance trade facilitation measures, such as a single window, a trade information portal, etc.

The German Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Jörn Rohde, said in order to achieve this aim, Sri Lanka needed to follow standards of other hub economies in Asia. He said, when it comes to being a hub, all hub economies have one thing in common, whether it's Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, etc., they have very low corruption indicators, efficient fiscal and legal infrastructure and competitive tax systems. These are precisely some of the benchmarks and Sri Lanka can achieve. Looking at current benchmark indicators such as the 'Ease of Doing Business' and 'World Competitiveness Report', Sri Lanka ranks 107 (2016) and 71 (2016–2017) respectively. These rankings clearly show that Sri Lanka has room for improvement. Also, investments will come more than they are coming at the moment. German investment in Sri Lanka for the last 5 years was EUR 130 million, which is a number that should be increased.

 
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