Having built itself a global reputation for environment sustainable and labour friendly practices, Sri Lankan apparel manufacturers are seeking to infuse local designs, material and fabrics in to the production of fashion apparels for global market, in an ambitious attempt to develop Sri Lanka in to an Asian fashion giant.
Refined into an art at the royal courts of Portugal and developed into an industry in the annals of Dutch Galle, the delicate art of beeralu or Dutch lace making has endured the test of time over generations.
Once an essential part of the dress of a Southern Belle, Dutch lace is making a comeback in the local fashion scene, thanks to a large number of young designers, who are seeking to add a local touch to their international designs.
In a post-quota era, where competition with mass garment manufacturers is destructive to the workforce as well as to the industry, Sri Lankan garment manufacturers have reinvented themselves as environment friendly, ethical employers of labour.
With the ending of the global quota system in apparels in the year 2005, Sri Lankan garment manufactures were faced with two extreme options. The first was to compete with global giants in mass garment manufacturing in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and China and the second was to go for a less competitive yet highly risky option of re-branding themselves as eco-friendly and labour friendly producers of quality garments.
CEMS-Global USA’s three comprehensive international exhibitions focused on the entire textile and garment sector of Sri Lanka – ‘6th Textech Sri Lanka 2015 International Expo,’ an international exhibition on textile garment technology and machinery,’ along with concurrent exhibitions ‘20th Dye+Chem Sri Lanka 2015 Int’l Expo,’ an int’l exhibition on dyes and fine and specialty chemicals, and ‘6th Colombo Int’l Yarn & Fabric Show 2015’ kicked off yesterday at the Sri Lanka Exhibition & Convention Centre (SLECC), Colombo. The exhibitions will run through 14 March.
Sri Lanka’s apparel industry is well on its path to meet the apparel export target of US $8.5 billion by 2020. Apparel exports which bring the largest export income to the country have recorded an increase of 9.26% YoY by earning US $4.9 billion in the year of 2014. In 2013, earnings from apparel rose by 13% YoY, recording a $4.5 billion surpassing the US $4 billion target initially set by the apparel industry.
The value of Sri Lanka’s total apparel exports for the first 11 months last year reached US$ 4302.4 million, registering 11% per cent growth. In 2013, Apparel exports had generated US$ 3876 million during the period January to November.
The storied iconic brands in the fashion industry, say, Nike, Diesel, Victoria’s Secrets, Mark & Spencer, H & M, GAP, NEXT, Levi’s among many others that are synonymous with exceptional fashion clothing rely on Sri Lanka as their topmost Apparel Sourcing Destination. Sri Lankan Apparel Exports mainly include Casual Wear, Fashion Wear, Intimate Wear, Swim Wear, Sports Wear, Uniform & Workwear and Children's Wear.
Thanks to an abundance of trainable and skilled labour force, technology infrastructure and visionary leadership, Sri Lankan Apparel industry has seen rapid growth and earned the trust and loyalty from the world leading Fashion brands that are unblinkingly strict about quality and socially compliant manufacturing practices.
Amidst a number of countries that export apparel, Sri Lanka enjoys a privileged position as a prime sourcing destination for garments without guilt. At the heart of this phenomenal success lies the philosophy that ‘Ethical Business is not a practice but a way of life’. The official website of Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) proclaims “We take pride in saying that Ethical Business Practices and Responsible Commerce at Sri Lanka's Apparel Industry are not a response to increasing need and demand for 'Ethical Products' and satisfy Business Compliance, but has been a Way of Life for last 30 years across the 350 plants and over 1 Million strong workforce.”
The exports of textiles and garments from the island nation of Sri Lanka surged by 23.4 percent year-on-year in the first month of 2014, according to a press release on ‘External Sector Performance – January 2014’ issued by the Economics Research Department of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
Textiles and garments, which is the main contributor to the growth in industrial exports from Sri Lanka, grew by 23.4 percent to US$ 412 million in January 2014, compared to exports of $333.9 million made during the same month last year.
Sri Lanka's apparel and textile sector exported a record US$4.3bn in2013 and its Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) has predicted overseas sales will continue rising this year.
The JAAF president Noel Piyatilake told just-style the industry is targeting an ambitious target of US$6bn in exports by 2020, making Sri Lanka one of the world's top 10 apparel exporting countries.
Sri Lanka’s apparel industry is looking towards China this year aimed at finding new brands and increasing chances of promoting garment exports via a new gateway with trade concessions for its existing buyers to the East Asian partner.
But reasons for the shift in market focus would also be due to the fact that industries need to align themselves with wherever the free trade agreements (FTA) are entered into by the government, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Yohan Lawrnce told the Business Times.
The Chinese market is said to have grown in addition to a good demand for luxury goods due to the large spending capacity by its locals. As a result of the rising income levels this new emerging market was today becoming a brand and quality conscious market.
Apparel exports in 2013 have reached an all-time record of US$ 4.3 billion compared with US$ 3.8 billion in 2012, said Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) acting Chairman Noel Priyatilleke.
Speaking at the JAFF 10th Annual General Meeting he said that nevertheless, the challenge ahead of us is not only to sustain this business but also to grow because the Government expects Sri Lankan apparel, tea and rubber to fetch a turnover of US$ 10 billion by 2016 and Sri Lankan apparel has also to be among the first ten apparel exporter countries of the world by 2020.
The time has come for us to explore all possible avenues to reach this target and I do believe that Sri Lankan apparel can achieve it, because of the visionary leadership given by the stalwarts of our industry coupled with the business-friendly environment created by our Government. Let us get together to perform this task.
Sri Lanka has garnered more than $4.6 Mn orders at the recently concluded Kunming Int’l Fair in China-and this too is only from the initial overview of Kunming outcomes rather than any in-depth totals. “I am pleased of the performance of the delegation of 119 companies and businesses that I led to Kunming. I commend EDB for this successful facilitation effort” said a satisfied Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka) on 31 July in Colombo.
As the first ever textile agreement between India and Sri Lanka became a reality, both neighbours mulled joining to enter a coveted global textile foothold-China, the world’s largest textile market. “China’s textiles are gradually moving from production to consumption. Using our strengths together-Sri Lanka’s first class garment manufacturing infrastructure and India’s quality fabric outputs-let us jointly compete for China’s textile market” said a determined Ms Zohra Chaterji (Secretary of Indian Ministry of Textiles) on 09 September in Colombo.
Ms Chaterji was addressing Anura Siriwardena (Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka) on 09 September at Cinnamon Grand during her delegation’s official meeting with Sri Lanka’s delegation after the signing the first ever MoU between India and Sri Lanka on the same day at Galadari Hotel, Colombo earlier. During the successful Cinnamon Grand meeting, officials from both sides discussed in depth, of the modalities of the morning MoU and how to move forward and implement it in the coming months and agreed on the immediate next steps.
Sri Lanka’s apparel sector is likely to benefit from the new regulations issued by the Finance Ministry of the country.
The regulations cited as the Finance Act - Commercial Hub Regulation (CHR) No. 1 of 2013, will be applicable on all new established enterprises in the country.
Under the regulation, any new enterprise which is established or incorporated in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 percent of its total investment has been from foreign sources, shall be exempted from the application of Provisions of the Customs Ordinance (Chapter 235), the Exchange Control Act (Chapter 423), the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, No. 1 of 1969, and acts referred to in schedule of the Principle Act as amended by the Finance Act, No.12 of 2013.
Sri Lanka has sought increased market access from India for Sri Lankan exports as a solution to balance the growing trade deficit with India.
Sri Lanka made this request during a discussion with an Indian delegation arrived in the country to discuss trade and investment.
Indian delegation led by S.R. Rao Commerce Secretary, Government of India arrived in Sri Lanka to discuss trade and investment matters with a Sri Lankan delegation led by Dr. P.B. Jayasundera Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning and Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development.
Sri Lanka’s apparel industry is to get a big boost as the world’s largest textile producer, China is exploring possibilities of opening its huge domestic market to the island’s garment exports, an industry heavyweight said.
Secretary General of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) M.P. Tuly Cooray told the Business Times that their umbrella body is to enter into an agreement with the China National Garment Association to allow access for Sri Lankan apparel industrialists to penetrate the Chinese domestic market and also set up joint ventures to produce internationally branded products for overseas markets.
A high-powered, 20-member delegation from the Chinese association visited Sri Lanka recently and held preliminary discussions towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) enabling Chinese apparel makers and top global retailers to shift their orders to Sri Lanka due to the rising labour cost in that country, he revealed. He noted that they aim to get duty free access for apparel from