Even though a significant reduction in garment exports to Europe from Sri Lanka occurred during recent months, it cannot be attributed to the loss of the GSP+ concessions Emirates Cargo said.
Speaking to a group of Lankan journalists in Dubai, Emirates Regional Manager Cargo and Commercial Operations Asia and Australasia Ravishankar Mirle explained that India, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Pakistan and Mauritius also experienced similar drops in export of garments to Europe over the last few months.
"The Christmas sales this time were not as high as expected, during the Christmas period the whole of Europe was under snow and there was a lot of uncertainty in Europe," Mirle said.
He further explained that in earlier months the distribution in cargo transported by Emirates from Colombo was 60 % garments and 40 % perishable goods; however this figure had now changed to 80 % perishable goods and 20 % garments. "However this is a cyclical process; it increases and decreases and it will soon increase again," he added.
Mirle was also of the view that Sri Lanka did not suffer a significant reduction in exports during the period of conflict. "There was no major reduction during the war because Sri Lanka has such a great advantage in producing high fashion," he said.
"Sri Lanka has a fundamental right for high fashion, of course there will be external factors that will affect the industry over which Sri Lanka has no control but this will not hinder the competitive advantage it has," Mirle said.
Emirates Cargo transports Lankan garments to "everywhere" in mainland Europe and the United States to retailers like Marks and Spencer and Gap both as "flat packed cartons" and "garments on hanger".
Emirates Cargo also aids in the Lankan garment industry by bringing in the necessary raw material imports such as buttons, shirt-stiffeners and fabrics necessary for production.