Trade agreements could propel Sri Lanka’s apparel: World Bank

apparel

Apr 27, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka could enter into more trade agreements to help diversify export destinations for existing apparel products, a new World Bank report said.

“The island could enter into more trade agreements to help diversify export destinations for existing products, such as active wear and intimate apparel,” World Bank report, Stitches to Riches: Apparel Employment, Trade and Economic Development, launched in Colombo, Tuesday said.

Accounting for 4.4 billion US dollars of its exports, Sri Lanka’s apparel sector outperforms other South Asian countries in terms of quality, lead time, reliability, along with social compliance and sustainability.

“Competition is increasing in the global apparels market with buyers moving towards greater consolidation in sourcing decisions and the impending approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Gladys Lopez-Acevedo, report co-author and a Lead Economist for the World Bank.

“Sri Lanka should seize this opportunity and implement policies to become a regional leader in creating good jobs, bringing more women into the work force and diversifying its products and end markets to increase skills and value.”

The report also recommends Sri Lanka expand into new products such as formal wear and high-end outerwear that require higher skills, and position as a regional apparel and textile trade hub taking advantage of its infrastructure advantage.

As China gradually scales back its apparel manufacturing, Sri Lanka stands to gain market share, but currently not as quickly as some Southeast Asian countries, the report says.

“Comparisons reveal that apparel prices are higher than competitors, but Sri Lanka produces more sophisticated products, though there is room for improvement on lead times and product range and availability.”