Clothing exports surpass US$ 5 b mark | Sunday Observer

Clothing exports surpass US$ 5 b mark

The Sri Lankan textile and apparel industry employs nearly 350,000 workers directly and twice as many indirectly. File pic: Lake House Media Library
The Sri Lankan textile and apparel industry employs nearly 350,000 workers directly and twice as many indirectly. File pic: Lake House Media Library

Clothing exports from Sri Lanka surpassed US$ 5 billion for the first time as was forecast in 2017.

The total earnings from export of apparel products under HS chapters 61, 62 and 63 amounted to US$ 5050 million in 2018, registering an increase of 4.79% compared to the export turnover of US$ 4,819 million in 2017.

The USA and the EU continued to be the two largest buyers of Sri Lankan garments, in volume and value terms, Secretary General Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), Tuli Cooray said.

This achievement is in line with the second strategic plan for the industry. This feat was achieved despite many external challenges, he said.

The consistency in the approach of the industry to be a reliable partner in ensuring on-time delivery, product quality, speed to market, ethical practices and innovative solutions has created the environment to achieve this feat.

The Sri Lankan textile and apparel industry employs nearly 350,000 workers directly and twice as many indirectly.

Total employment is estimated to be 15% of the country’s workforce. The majority of this workforce is women from regional areas and Sri Lanka Apparel considers them the most valuable asset. They are the backbone of the industry.

The contribution of the textile and apparel industry to the GDP is 6% based on re-based GDP estimates.

Given the development of the other sectors, it is very unlikely that any other manufactured export sector will come up to this level of performance in the short to mid-term.

Therefore, the apparel industry will continue to influence the level of economic development in the mid-term.

The desire of the apparel industry is to reach a target of US$ 8 billion by 2025 needing a 6% annual compound growth, a very ambitious target.

While the industry will take all possible steps to meet capacity, technology and resource issues, the envisaged market access programs through regional, multi-lateral or bi-lateral trade arrangements are also extremely important particularly because of emerging markets such as India, China and Brazil, Cooray said.

The Sri Lankan apparel industry plans to raise the bar to the next level with effective public private partnerships. 

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