Slovakia, a world leader in car production wants Sri Lanka rubber, tires

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Sri Lanka’s rubber sector received a major opening from a world’s leader in car production when Slovakia called for using Sri Lankan rubber, especially rubber tires in its record setting car manufacturing industry.

“We want to diversify our rubber intake and to this end want to expand the sourcing from our present African and South East Asian suppliers,” the stressed the visiting Slovak Finance Minister Peter Kazimir meeting with the Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen in Colombo on Wednesday, 28 March.

The Slovak Finance Minister accompanying a nine-member official delegation said as a result of post-Soviet era economic restructuring, Slovakia has become a manufacturing economy and 40 percent of country’s industrial exports are automotive.

Well established global brands such as KIA, Volkswagen, Jaguar Landrover, Audi, and PSA Peugeot Citroën are now manufacturing in Slovakia at Tier One OEM level, the Slovak Minister disclosed.

According to the Slovak Finance Minister more than 400 Slovak SMEs too are part of the country’s supply chain as second tier suppliers and the automotive manufacturing industry has been rapidly developing making Slovakia the world’s leading car producer per capita in last year.

“As a result, we are now working to diversify our industry supply sources. For example we want to diversify our rubber intake and to this end expanding the sourcing from our present African and South East Asian suppliers. Tire supplies are crucial for us. We want to expand this sourcing and are now keenly focusing on Sri Lankan rubber sector, especially tires,” he said.

The finance minister said he would wish to send business delegations to Sri Lanka and even ready to transfer their technical knowhow to Sri Lankan (automotive) industry. “New supplies from Sri Lanka to Slovakia would also increase low level of our existing bilateral trade,” he noted.

Minister Bathiudeen welcoming the Slovak Minister Kazimir’s offers said the interest in Sri Lanka’s rubber and tires as well as technology transfer to its automotive sector will without a doubt upgrade the country’s manufacturing and bilateral cooperation in trade.

He told the Slovakian Minister that global demand for Sri Lanka’s high quality rubber continues to increase and last year rubber exports increased by 18% to $39 million from 2016’s $33 Million.

“Therefore you are in the right location looking for high quality rubber and tires for your automotive sector. I and my Ministry shall extend our fullest cooperation when your business and investment delegations arrive here and will facilitate sectoral meetings.” Minister Bathiudeen responded.

Slovak Minister Kazimir also stressed their interest in investing in Sri Lanka and called for a bilateral Investment Protection and Double Tax Avoidance mechanisms between both countries during his meeting with Minister Bathiudeen.

Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Slovakia totaled a mere $ 45 Million in 2017. Sri Lanka’s leading export to Slovakia in 2017 was apparel while machinery was the key import item to Sri Lanka from Slovakia.

Last year Slovakia ascended to become the world’s leading car producer by making 191 car-units per 1000 inhabitants. Its annual car output last year also surpassed one million unit mark.

Lately, Slovakia began expanding to car production to SUVs having launched production of Porsche Cayenne in 2017. Slovak sources said the new generation of Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q8 are the other new SUVs lined up for production next.

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