Sri Lanka – Country Profile

Sri Lanka – Country Profile

General Information

Official Name Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Capital Colombo
Land Area 65,610 sq km
Population 20.8m (2013; IMF estimate)
Currency 1 $CAD =  117.63 Sri Lanka rupee (LKR)
National Holiday February 4th
Language(s) Sinhalese, Tamil, English
Source: Economic Intelligence Unit, Bank of Canada (Currency Conversion 15/09/2014)

Political Information

Form of State Executive presidency based on the French model
Head of State President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Elections Last: 2010, Next: 2016
Source: Economic Intelligence Unit

Economic Information

Sri Lanka Canada
GDP (PPP) $150.6 billion $1,668 billion
GDP per capita $7,233 billion $47,531 billion
GDP annual growth rate 7.3% 2.01%
GDP – composition by sector Agriculture: 10.6%

Industry: 32.4%

Services: 57%

Agriculture: 1.7%

Industry: 28.4%

Services: 69.9%

Inflation rate – average consumer prices 6.91% 0.96%
Main industries Processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, banking; tourism, shipping; clothing, textiles; cement, petroleum refining, information technology services, construction Transportation equipment, chemicals, processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, fish products, petroleum and natural gas.
Note: 2013 data in Canadian dollars ($CAD)
Source: IMF World Economic Outlook, World Bank Data, CIA World Factbook, Bank of Canada (Currency Conversion 15/09/2014).

Political and Economic Stability

Sri Lanka is expected to experience rapid economic expansion in the coming years. Its twenty-five year-long ethnic conflict officially ended in 2009, restoring political stability and investor confidence in the country. In addition, the government is spending money on reconstruction and development in regions affected by the war, as well as new infrastructure.

Canada and Sri Lanka, as members of the Commonwealth, and through the development assistance of the Colombo Plan, have strong bilateral relations. Sri Lanka has facilitated a low-tariff, open trade system as well as free trade treaties with Pakistan and India, among other countries. The country is located near lucrative markets in South Asia which provide it a major economic advantage and make it attractive to foreign investors.

Sri Lanka is a parliamentary democracy, however challenges remain in terms of governance and rule of law. In January 2010,Presidential elections took place and President Rajapska was re-elected for a second six-year term. This was the first nation-wide election in over twenty years due the conflict. Since 2010, Sri Lanka has had stable levels of growth and as a result has become a middle-income country.


The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) recommends that Canadians exercise a high degree of caution when traveling in Sri Lanka due to the unpredictable security situation. For detailed and up-to-date information on travel security, please refer to the DFATD Travel Report for Sri Lanka.

Trade Information

Trade Partners & Direction 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Average Yearly Growth
Sri Lanka Exports to the World ($CAD Million) $8,090 M $8,552 M $9,893 M $9,364 M $9,812 M 4%
Sri Lanka Exports to United States ($CAD Million) $1,806 M $1,820 M $2,119 M $2,116 M $2,769 M* 9%
Sri Lanka Exports to Canada ($CAD Million) $116 M $128 M $162 M $189 M $206 M 12%
Canadian Exports to Sri Lanka ($ CAD Million) $334 M $348 M $303 M $322 M $182 M -11%
Note: Data in millions of Canadian dollars ($CAD)
Source: Trade Data Online (Industry Canada), Trade Map (International Trade Centre),
*Data taken from the Office of the United States Trade Representative
Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)
Source: International Trade Centre Trade Map
Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)
Source: Industry Canada Trade Data Online

Business Climate

The World Bank’s annual Doing Business report ranks economies from 1 to 189 (with 1 being the best) on their ease of doing business. In the 2014 report, Sri Lanka ranked 85 overall and 51 for Trading Across Borders, which measures the ease with which a standardized shipment of goods can be imported or exported across its borders. The average time to ship goods out of Sri Lanka is approximately 20 days, which is better than the regional average which sits at 30 days. The average estimated cost is $858.39 CAD per 20-foot container. To complete the export process, five forms of documentation are required: Bill of Lading, Commercial Invoice, Customs Export Declaration, Packing List and Technical Standard/Health Certificate.

Although there are many reputable exporters in Sri Lanka, Canadian importers should be aware that corruption could be an issue when doing business in the country. Sri Lanka ranked 91 out of 175 in Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index where 1st place indicates least corrupt. Canadian companies are advised to exercise strict due diligence before working with a company from Sri Lanka to ensure that it is a bona fide and reputable entity. It is suggested that Canadian importers commission a report by a credit information provider to verify the financial strength of the partner.

Sustainability Initiatives

The Sri Lankan garment industry is known for its quality products and high ethical standards. It has also been awarded for its environmentally responsible manufacturing. In fact, seven of its apparel facilities are rated LEED gold or platinum and many of its companies have Garments Without Guilt certification. Garments Without Guilt (GWG) is an initiative that gives certified countries the authority to endorse themselves as responsible businesses and the ability to reassure international buyers about working conditions in the country. The GWG Charter requires that the factories must be free of: child labour, forced labor, discrimination, sweatshop practices and have responsible environmental practices.

Since its creation in 1992, Greenfield Bio Plantations has been an exporter of organic and fair-trade produce from Sri Lanka. Starting out with just tea, the company expanded to include all sorts of organic foods, such as herbs, spices, fruits, and nuts. Greenfield Bio Plantations’ mission is to offer the finest certified organic fair trade produce to their export markets while guaranteeing a sustainable and environmentally conscious way of life to their partner communities and through protecting the global environment.

Trade Opportunities

1. Clothing Apparel & Textiles
Clothing and textiles dominate approximately 71% of the composition of Canadian imports from Sri Lanka. Some of the most popular product categories are women and men’s pyjamas, nightwear, underwear, suits, ensembles, pants, shirts, t-shirts and much more. Canada imported 113 million dollars’ worth of Sri Lankan knitted and woven apparel in 2013 alone. This was a 93% increase over a period of five years (2009-2013). Garments and other knit and woven textiles have been identified as the product categories with the greatest potential for import expansion from Sri Lanka.

2. Rubber Products
Rubber products are also a key export to Canada from Sri Lanka. Canada’s imports of rubber have increased significantly over the past five years from 1.6 million in 2009 to 9.5 million in 2013. Sri Lankan rubber is used, not only for tires, but also in latex products (especially medical or industrial gloves), industrial components, and general rubber products (including hot water bottles, carpets, and floor mats).

3. Tea & Spices
Tea is another significant Sri Lankan export. Sri Lanka is Canada’s top third exporter of tea from all of Asia. It is particularly renowned for its variety of its special black tea, Ceylon, which has a golden colour and intense flavour that tea drinkers love. It is also praised for the availability of many fair trade and environmentally friendly tea options. Sri Lanka’s main spice crops include cinnamon, pepper, clove, cardamom, nutmeg and mace.

4. Seafood & Coconuts
As an island nation, Sri Lanka has an abundant supply of fish and seafood products available for export. Its main products include tuna, swordfish, marlin, prawns (frozen and fresh), Maldive fish, sprats, shark fins, and fish maws (preserved), beche-de-mer, cuttle fish, molluscs, and fresh, live, chilled or frozen crabs and lobsters. In recent years fresh and dried coconut imports from Sri Lanka to Canada have increased significantly. The imports reached a high of 1.7 million Canadian dollars in 2013.

5. Emerging Sector: IT and Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) Services
An important emerging sector in Sri Lanka is IT and Business Process Outsourcing services. The IT aspect of this sector includes Telecommunications, Banking Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) and Software Testing. The BPO sector focuses on Financial & Accounting Services, Investment Research, Engineering Services and Legal Services. The IT-BPO industry has been labelled as an up and coming industry by the government and as such the government has promoted the industry by providing fiscal and other incentives and concessions to help develop the sector.

Sri Lanka is home to over 300 IT and BPO companies. The majority of which are small and medium sized, however, there are also a few global players in Sri Lanka including HSBC, WNS Global Services, Microsoft, Motorola, Quattro and Aviva.  Presently, over 50,000 are employed in the IT-BPO sector in Colombo and the industry is continuing to expand. The workforce is low cost, highly adaptable, loyal, and English speaking.

TFO Canada Export Offers

TFO Canada provides an information service for Canadian importers interested in sourcing products from developing and emerging economies such as Sri Lanka. This includes practical advice on sourcing from developing country exporters, a customized news bulletin including new leads from Sri Lanka as they come in, and a searchable database for sourcing new products and suppliers. The chart below provides a rough idea of the number of supplier profiles from Sri Lanka, available online with contact information through TFO Canada’s searchable Supplier Database.

Industry Group No. of Suppliers in TFO Canada Database
Food Products and Beverages (Including Seafood) 3
Floriculture 2
Home Décor, Giftware and Crafts 2
Fashion Accessories 1
Housewares and Hardware 1
Industrial Goods, Machinery, Parts and Raw Materials 1
Chemicals, Minerals and Allied Products 1

Useful Links

Sri Lanka Department of Commerce
Sri Lanka Ministry of Industry and Commerce
Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka
National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Central Bank
Sri Lanka Export Development Board
Sri Lanka Gem & Jewellery Association
Sri Lanka Tea Board
Tea Exporters Association Sri Lanka (TEA)
Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association
Sri Lanka Apparel Sourcing Association
Sea Food Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka (SEASL)
Spices & Allied Products Producers’ & Traders’ Association (SAPPTA)
Colombo Rubber Traders’ Association
Sri Lanka Association Of Manufacturers & Exporters Of Rubber Products (Slamerp) www,
Lanka Fruit & Vegetable Producers, Processors and Exporters Association (LFVPPEA)

Links to Cited Documents

Bank of Canada – Daily Currency Convertor
Canadian Trade Commissioner Service – Country Info
CIA World Factbook
DFATD (Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development) – Foreign Relations
DFATD (Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development) – Travel Reports
EDC (Export Development Canada) – Country Profiles
Industry Canada – Trade Data Online
International Trade Centre – Trade Map
Transparency International – Corruption Perception Index
World Bank – Doing Business Report
World Bank – Open Data
Bank of Canada – Daily Currency Convertor
Canadian Trade Commissioner Service – Country Info
CIA World Factbook
DFATD (Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development) – Foreign Relations
DFATD (Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development) – Travel Reports
EDC (Export Development Canada) – Country Profiles