May 10, 2018 (LBO) – Apparel industry leaders say that increasing apparel exports and receiving trade benefits such as GSP Plus facility, should not blind the sector but the industry should move on and face emerging challenges to advance to the next level.
Chairman of Sri Lanka Apparel Institute Prof. Lakdas Fernando addressing the launch of 8th AISEX and FASE apparel industry sourcing expo at BMICH, today warned apparel sectors optimism on regaining GSP Plus.
“In my view GSP Plus is a “transient popup” for our apparel sector. This gain is only for a short period of time. We need to adopt strategic thinking to meet the challenges in the changing scenario,” said Prof Lakdas.
“Even to get the best from GSP Concession, a lot needs to be done. The winds of change are rippling across global industries and it is very much evident in apparel sector too-in CAT tech, digital printing and digital designs.”
Secretary General of Joint Apparel Association Forum Tuli Cooray said that Sri Lanka is at a critical stage as the country is moving for a very ambitious reform agenda.
“New export strategies, new facilitations, and new maritime changes are brought in to eradicate poverty. In this process various industry sectors, including apparels, play a key role,” Cooray said.
“A majority of our labour force is in this industry and this sector is also a major contributor to our GDP. Therefore, the so called GSP Plus relief will offer you benefits for a very limited period of time,”
“And we have to ensure that we (ourselves) will raise the bar to the next level through new skills and new technologies. Our industry should be exposed to the new global trends, to move forward.”
Europe is a key market for Lankan apparels. Last year Sri Lanka earned 2 billion US dollars from apparel exports to EU, which was 42 percent of total apparel exports.
In the first quarter this year, Lankan apparel exports to EU increased by 5.2 percent to 526 million dollars in comparison to 500 million dollars in first quarter of 2017.
Apparel exports to US too increased by 5.1 percent in this year’s Q1 to 576 million dollars, from 2017 Q1’s 548 million dollars.
“After regaining GSP Plus, our apparel exports increased and we are now eagerly looking forward to surpass the 5 billion dollars annual exports value this year compared to the 4.8 billion dollars in 2017,” said Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.