Apparel exports modest despite odd environment | Sunday Observer

Apparel exports modest despite odd environment

26 June, 2022

Despite an unhealthy political  and economic environment in the country, the apparel industry has maintained a modest growth in June compared to a year earlier, Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Secretary General Yohan Lawrence told the Sunday Observer Business last week.

He said while the past few months have been challenging the apparel industry had managed to sustain operations on schedule.

The ability to purchase diesel directly to power our generators using our export earnings has helped, and we have maintained a consistent flow of revenue over the last few months, Lawrence said adding that amidst enormous challenges this year apparel export earnings grew by almost 30 percent to USD 446 million in May 2 compared USD 344 million notched during the corresponding month a year earlier.

He said the industry targets a revenue of USD 6 billion this year and added that the next couple of months will be indicative of the industry’s ability to continue its growth trajectory and achieve this target.

However, given the rugged path set for all industries due to the global and domestic tensions hindering  the smooth operation of supply chains clothing export earnings is speculated to dip by a quarter this year according to industry experts.

We continue to vehemently request the authorities to ensure both political and economic stability in the country in order for the apparel industry and other export industries to continue functioning smoothly, devoid of disruption, the apparel forum chief said. 

The forum believes will infuse the much needed foreign exchange the country requires particularly at this juncture.

This will also help to keep people in employment which is the need of the day. Stability is also essential to retain our buyer confidence and protect Sri Lanka’s global reputation as a reliable sourcing destination for high quality apparel. Lawrence said.

The Joint Apparel Association Forum has warned that the country would lose between 10-20% of its orders to India and Bangladesh due to the  ongoing political and economic crisis that had triggered a loss of confidence among buyers.

According to a senior official of the forum the current political and economic tensions poses a huge risk of losing these buyers to regional markets.

The Export Development Board reports that the apparel and textile sectors brought in $ 1.9 billion between January and April 2022, a 13% year-on-year increase compared to the past year; however, this cannot be sustained unless the faith of buyers is restored. Apparel categories span sportswear, lingerie, loungewear, bridal-wear, work-wear, swimwear and children’s-wear.

These products are manufactured and exported with the flexibility of catering to specific seasons of many countries around the world; it is small wonder that this industry has enjoyed epic growth levels over the past four decades, and is Sri Lanka›s primary foreign exchange earner today.