Officials paint bright picture for apparel industry


By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The Ambassador for the Kingdom of Netherlands in Sri Lanka Leoni Cuelenaere said despite all internal and external factors, Sri Lanka could overcome all economic and social challenges to achieve a sustainable and vibrant economic growth.

"Sri Lanka has emerged from a three decades of war, which it-self was a great advantage to solve all economic and social woes to achieve vibrant growth," Cuelenaere said at the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA) Annual General Meeting.

She said Sri Lanka was resilient to external and internal pressures and the end of the EU GSP plus trade concessions would not have a major impact on the apparel sector as it was well poised to face any market condition due to the presence of strong backward linkages.

"Sri Lanka’s apparel sector has a reputation for adopting good trade practices with safe working conditions for employees; apart from this all garments produced in Sri Lankan factories meet quality standards of the highest level. These are the key plus factors that would enable it to continue penetrating EU and US markets," she said.

The apparel sector contributes more than 10 percent to GDP, which amounts to US$ 3.2 billion.

The Minister of Industries and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said the apparel industry was the largest net foreign exchange earner, at US$ 3.2 billon, which was 45 percent of total export earnings. They are now in the process of adopting a five year strategic development plan to increase its annual GDP contribution to US$ 5 billion by 2015, the minister said.

Minister Bathiudeen said Sri Lanka was known by the outside world as a country that maintains high ethical standards and unique brand positions. This would undoubtedly enable us to reach the annual turnover mark of US$ 5 billion by 2015. He also said that it is high time to strengthen the local textile industry.

SLAEA President elect Rohan Abyakoon said that the apparel sector practices transparency, honesty and ethical manufacturing which had paved the way to enhance the credibility of the industry internationally.

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