Record apparel export revenue on the cards

March 9, 2018 | Written by Dailynews

Sri Lanka will have a record export revenue from apparel re exports this year, said Secretary General of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Tuli Cooray.

Speaking after the opening of the international textile and garment expo in Colombo organized by CEMS-Global USA, a multinational exhibition organizer yesterday he said that last year the total revenue earned from apparel exports were US $ 4. 8 billion and so far in 2018 earnings were at US$ 450 million.

“Undoubtedly the regaining of the GSP Plus has helped the industry to a great extent. We passed the US$ 4.8 million mark after enjoying GSP plus for around 5 months. However this year we will enjoy the full year of GSP Plus benefits and this will help the industry to achieve an all time record revenue target.”

Recording the highest value for the year, earnings from textiles and garment exports continued to increase significantly in December 2017 with increased exports to the European Union (EU) following the restoration of the GSP+ facility in May 2017.

Earnings from garment exports to the EU increased by 27.2 per cent (year-on-year), while garment exports to the USA and other non-traditional markets increased by 18 per cent and 14.1 per cent, respectively, during December 2017.

He said that the apparel industry would see a further boost with the proposed FTA agreements and bilateral arrangements with India and China.

He however said that the local apparel industry is facing major issues with lack of employees and the industry may have to look at several options. “One may to import labour and the other would be to make apparels locally and send them to countries like Bangladesh to add the finishing touches.”

He also said that 30 years ago there were several talkers for apparel sector jobs that offered a take home pay of around RS. 7,000 and in the 1990’s too there were people to fill jobs which paid around Rs. 17, 000 per month. “However today even for a Rs. 35, 000 salary there are only a few takers.”

Cooray said that today employment have emerged in new sectors like, tourism, ICT, and self employment jobs via the internet and these too have resulted in less turning out for apparel jobs.

He said that labour issues as well as high production costs and lack of workers are prompting some of the local apparel companies to move their factories overseas and this will be a major issue for Sri Lanka the future.