Sri Lanka saw its textile and garment exports slide in the first four months of the year as a result of the seasonal buying patterns of its export countries, which were lower earlier in the year, but saw a moderate increase for the month of April.

Textile and garment exports for the period from January to April amounted to $1.71bn, a drop of 4.9 per cent on $1.63 bn a year earlier, figures from the Sri Lanka Central Bank show. Garment exports alone were down 5.1 per cent to $1.61bn.

For the leather, travel goods and footwear industry, exports dropped 1.2 per cent to $49.8mn. For the month of April, textile and garment exports registered a moderate increase of 3 per cent year-on-year to $340.5mn.

The leading markets for merchandise exports during the first four months of 2017 were the US, the UK, India, Germany and Italy – together accounting for about 51 per cent of total exports. For the same period, Sri Lanka imported $120.2 mn worth of clothing and accessories, a 19.4 per cent increase on the prior year, while textile and textile article imports dropped 4 per cent to $896.8mn.

In May, the European Union (EU) reinstated Sri Lanka’s GSP+ duty-free trade concession, in a move that mainly benefits the country’s leading garment export industry. The EU is Sri Lanka’s biggest export market accounting for nearly one-third of Sri Lanka’s global exports. In 2016, EU imports from Sri Lanka amounted to 2.6 bn euro – with textiles and clothing making up 61.9 per cent of the total with a value of 1.58 bn euro.