Sri Lanka - Japan Trade

The Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka


Japan was the largest supplier to Sri Lanka until late 1990s. In 2001, India surpassed Japan as the main supplier. From 2017 to 2019 Sri Lanka’s exports to Japan shows a positive trend. The Balance of Trade between the countries has been in favor of Japan. The value of imports which stood at 1,584.76 US$ Mn in 2018 decreased to 875.47 US$ Mn in 2019 by 44.75% compared to 2018.

Japan was the 8 th export market for Sri Lanka with a share of 2.39% in 2019. In 1977, Japan was Sri Lanka’s 6 th export market with a share of 5.21%. Apparel was the dominant export item from Sri Lanka to Japan accounting for 21.15% of total exports to Japan in 2019.

Sri Lanka’s Imports from Japan

Japan was the 5 th import partner of Sri Lanka with a share of 4.49% in 2019. Motor vehicles for the transport of persons were the major import item from Japan to Sri Lanka which Accounts for 40.58% of total imports from Japan in 2019.

Preferential Trade

Since 1971, Japan GSP scheme has been granting preferential tariffs to certain developing countries under its Temporary Tariff Measures Law. Sri Lanka is a beneficiary country of this scheme. This scheme which has been granting preferential tariff rate deduction of 4.9 percentage points from 2012 onwards includes concessions for 337 agricultural & fishery products and 3,216 industrial products.

The GOSL on 25th August, 2020 submitted the proposal on the new Japan GSP Scheme, which will be implemented in March 2021. The DOC consulted the government stakeholders, relevant product sectors and trade chambers of Sri Lanka, enabling us to get more market access opportunities in the Japanese market under the new Japan GSP scheme. In this regard the DOC has selected four main product sectors where it can get more market access opportunities and requested more concessions for the products coming under those sectors along with other few products. These 04 sectors include textile and apparel, tea, fisheries and food processing.

Exports from Sri Lanka to Japan under Japan GSP during the last 05 years

Scope for further expansion of Sri Lanka’s Exports to Japan

In terms of the growing demand pattern in Japan and considering the sustainable supply capacities of Sri Lanka, following products can be further expanded in the Japan market.

  • Ceylon Tea (need further Generic Promotion and preferential access)
  • Apparel (Have great potential but need preferential access)
  • Spices (Need to create more awareness through promotions and trade fair participation etc, we can capitalize on Cinnamon)
  • Coconut Oil (There was a very good market, need to re-in force the same)
  • Tropical fruits (Needs expedite the quarantine clearance process.
  • Cocopeat and coir based products
  • Organic products Demand is gradually picking-up
  • There is a great potential for automotive parts and electronic products, but needs to back by Japanese FDI in Sri Lanka
  • Mineral products in raw form
  • Special and unique gift items
  • Unique food ingredients and food products
  • Essential oil
  • IT Service
  • Ayurvedha
  • Gloves with plastics/rubber, knit/crochet
  • Tuna (yellowfin), fresh
  • Activated carbon
  • Gloves, of vulcanized rubber
  • Fish cuts, fresh
  • Food preparation