Slovakia’s auto industry calls for Sri Lankan rubber

The Sri Lankan rubber sector is set to expand as Slovakia, the global leader in car production, has called for the sourcing of Sri Lankan rubber and rubber products – especially rubber tyres – for its record-setting automobile manufacturing industry.
This was expressed by visiting Slovak Finance Minister Peter Kazimir at a discussion held with the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen in Colombo on 28 March.
“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”, stressed Minister Kazimir. “As a result of post-Soviet era economic restructuring, Slovakia has become a manufacturing economy. 40% of our industrial exports are automotives. Well-established global brands such as KIA, Volkswagen, Jaguar Landrover, Audi, and PSA Peugeot Citroen are now manufacturing in Slovakia at Tier-One OEM level. More than 400 Slovak SMEs are also part of our supply chain as second-tier suppliers. Our automotive manufacturing industry has been rapidly developing and last year we became the world’s leading car producer.”
Slovakia achieved this title by increasing its per capita car production to 191 units per 1,000 inhabitants. Its annual car output exceeded one million units in 2017, during which it began expanding its car production to SUVs, having launched production of the Porsche Cayenne that year. Slovak sources said that SUV’s from other leading brands, such as Volkswagen and Audi, are lined up for production next.
“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, are expanding the sourcing from our present African and South East Asian suppliers. Tyre supplies are crucial for us. We are now keenly focusing on the Sri Lankan rubber sector, especially tyres.”
Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Slovakia totalled US$ 45 million in 2017, during which Sri Lanka’s leading export to Slovakia was apparel, while machinery was the key import item to Sri Lanka from Slovakia.
Minister Kazimir highlighted that this could be further strengthened, saying: “We also wish to send our business delegations here and are even ready to transfer our technical knowhow to the Sri Lankan (automotive) industry if you wish. New supplies from Sri Lanka to Slovakia would also increase the low level of our existing bilateral trade.”
Minister Bathiudeen welcomed Kazimir’s offer. “As the Minister in charge of Lankan Industries, I welcome your interest on our rubber and tyres, as well as the technology transfer to our automotive sector. There is no doubt that these measures will upgrade our manufacturing and even bilateral cooperation. Global demand for our high-quality rubber continues to increase; even last year, our rubber exports increased by 18% to US$ 39 million from 2016’s US$ 33 million. Therefore, you are in the right location for high-quality rubber and tyres for your automotive sector. My Ministry and I shall extend our fullest cooperation when your business and investment delegations arrive here and will facilitate sectoral meetings,” Bathiudeen responded.
Slovak Minister Kazimir also expressed interest in investing in Sri Lanka and called for bilateral Investment Protection and Double Tax Avoidance mechanisms between both countries during his meeting with Minister Bathiudeen.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen meets visiting Slovak Finance Minister Peter Kazimir on 28 March in Colombo.

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