Slovakia, the world’s highest per capita car producer, is keen on importing Sri Lankan rubber tyres for the Slovakian automotive manufacturing industry, according to a communiqué from the local Industry and Commerce Ministry.
“We want to diversify our rubber intake and to this end, expanding the sourcing from our present African and Southeast Asian suppliers. Tyre supplies are crucial for us. We want to expand this sourcing and are now keenly focusing on the Sri Lankan rubber sector, especially tyres,” Slovak Finance Minister Peter Kazimir said during his visit to Sri Lanka with a nine-member delegation.
Kazimir, who was visiting the Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Ministry yesterday, said that with the rapid expansion of the Slovak automobile manufacturing industry, a need has arisen to diversify the rubber sources.
Last year, Slovakia produced over one million cars or 191 cars per 1,000 inhabitants. Global automobile giants such as KIA, Volkswagen, Jaguar Land Rover, Audi and PSA Peugeot Citroen have factories in Slovakia.
Lately, Slovakia has begun expanding from car production to SUVs, having launched production of Porsche Cayenne in 2017, while the new generation of Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q8 are expected to begin production in the future.
Kazimir said that the Slovak government wishes to send business delegations to Sri Lanka for rubber sourcing and even provide technical knowhow to the Sri Lankan automotive industry, if so desired.
Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen welcomed the interest shown by Slovakia.
“Global demand for our high-quality rubber continues to increase; even last year our rubber exports increased by 18 percent to US $ 39 million from US $ 33 million in 2016.
Therefore, you are in the right location looking for high-quality rubber and tyres for your automotive sector,” he said.
Bathiudeen pledged his support for business and investment delegations expected to arrive from Slovakia.
Kazimir also expressed interest in investing in Sri Lanka and called for bilateral investment protection and double tax avoidance mechanisms between both countries during the ministerial meeting.
Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Slovakia totalled US $ 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.