Sound strategy vital to capture EU markets

‘The quality of the products will be a determinant factor in penetrating the vast EU market.’
‘The quality of the products will be a determinant factor in penetrating the vast EU market.’

Gaining the GSP Plus is a huge boost to Sri Lanka’s apparel exports but making the best use of the concessions with the right marketing strategy and understanding of the psychology of the European buyer should be the focus of exporters, apparel industry experts said.

Sri Lanka Apparel Institute Chairman and Emeritus Professor, University of Moratuwa Prof. Lakdas Fernando said regaining the GSP plus benefits is some respite for the export sector. However, the question is whether we are prepared to make the maximum use of the benefit.

“I am not sure how far the apparel sector is prepared with such a strategy. However, we need to come up with a sound marketing strategy and a proper understanding of the mindset of the EU buyer,” Prof. Fernando said.

Export sector experts said that Sri Lanka should have prepared for the trade concession well in advance to make best use of it. Bangladesh has gained immensely from the GSP plus and today, it exports to the tune of USD 20 billion through the trade concession.

“The EU is not ready to accept any rubbish we offer them. The quality of the products will be a determinant factor to penetrate the vast market,” Prof. Fernando said.

The EU is a major export market for Sri Lankan exports accounting for a major share of the apparel market. The region accounts for nearly one-third of Sri Lanka’s exports which stood at around Euro 4.7 billion in 2015.

Prof. Fernando said the apparel export sector should target an income of USD 6 billion from exports to the EU under the GSP Plus concessions.

The European Council approved the GSP Plus concession to Sri Lanka last week enabling tax-free exports to the EU market. 

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