Country Focus: Sri Lanka

GDP: $73.7 billion/$3,400 per capita (2004)

GDP Change: +5.5 percent

Population: 19.9 million

Unemployment: 8.4 percent

Textile and apparel exports to the U.S.: $1.51 billion, +0.6 percent

Key products: Cotton pants, cotton woven shirts, man-made fiber coats, man-made fiber bras.

Currency: $1 = 99.03 rupees

Major companies: Mast Lanka, Paradigm Group, Favourite Clothing

The island of Sri Lanka is heavily dependent on apparel exports, which, in 2003, represented 63 percent of its shipments abroad. The industry employs more than 300,000 Sri Lankans and indirectly supports millions more. Following the devastation caused by the Dec. 26 tsunami, which killed more than 30,000 people on the island and wiped out many coastal areas, apparel exports will become all the more critical to Sri Lanka’s economic well-being. Even before the waves, though, industry observers were concerned about the future of Sri Lanka’s industry. Its apparel manufacturers are heavily dependent on fabrics made abroad, primarily in India. Last year, the International Textile, Garment & Leather Workers’ Union projected that Sri Lanka could lose as many as 250,000 apparel jobs to competitors in China and elsewhere after the 148 nations of the World Trade Organization dropped their quotas on textiles and apparel. Now that that has occurred, and particularly in light of the devastation, Sri Lanka plans to petition the U.S. and Europe for preferential trade treatment.

NOTES: IMPORT DATA IS FOR THE YEAR ENDED OCT. 31, COMPARED WITH the PRIOR-YEAR PERIOD; UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES ARE FOR PRIOR TO THE DEC. 26 TSUNAMI. SOURCES: CIA WORLD FACTBOOK, U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT, OANDA.COM

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