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Sri Lanka’s world class apparel knowhow expands to South Asia

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Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen (third from left) hands over a certificate to a SLITA diplomate on 15 August, joined by JAAF Chairman Sharad Amalean (far right), JAAF Secretary General Tuly Cooray (second from right) and Industry and Commerce Ministry Additional Secretary (Textile Development) M.A. Thajudeen (second from left)


Bangladesh High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Riaz Hamidullah (far right) presents a certificate to a SLITA diplomate on 15 August, joined by Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen (third from right) JAAF Chairman Sharad Amalean (second from right), and SLITA Director General Eng. A. Robert V. Peries (far left)



Having successfully wrapped a three decades’ run, Sri Lanka’s foremost apparel training body is to expand to the South Asian region next. Meanwhile, for Sri Lanka to sustain its apparel advantage over the longer term, it needs to think beyond its low cost of labour.

“I am pleased to inform that Sri Lanka Institute of Textile and Apparel (SLITA), under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, is planning to expand,” said Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen on 15 August. Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the apparel industry graduation ceremony by SLITA, held at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre, where more than 500 new SLITA grads received their certificates and awards. Joining the session were industry leaders such as Joint Apparel Associations Forum (JAAF) Chairman Sharad Amalean, JAAF Secretary General Tuly Cooray, Industry and Commerce Ministry Additional Secretary (Textile Development) M.A. Thajudeen, as well as High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka Riaz Hamidullah.

“With today’s passing out of another 500 diplomates, the grand total of SLITA course participants stands at 21600,” said Minister Bathiudeen, adding: “As the only Government institution engaged in training for apparel and leather sectors, SLITA showed several important achievements. In 2017, SLITA performed almost 50000 testings for the first time, and trained 5400 persons. These successful diplomates obtained academic and on–the-job training in Textile and Apparel Technology with the latest industrial exposure.  Today, I am also pleased to inform you that SLITA has important plans of expansion.  SLITA is planning to expand its services to the South Asian region, and preparing to establish links and collaborations with prestigious textile and apparel institutions in the region. SLITA is also planning to acquire degree-awarding status to award apparel degrees.”  Highlighting the apparel sector performance of the first half of 2018, he said: “Our apparel exports, which picked up in May this year, strengthened further in June. The total exports in January-June this year was at $2.4 billion, up by 5% compared to same period in 2017. We exported $ 1 billon apparels to EU, another $ 1 billion to US and $321 million to the rest of the world. Exports to EU grew by 7.76% and to US by 3.77%. For us to sustain this success rate over the longer period, we need to focus on gaining more advantages, in addition to our low labour costs.” 

“I like to make three suggestions for the next stage of Sri Lankan apparel sector,” said JAAF Chairman Sharad Amalean. “First, increased adoption of digital platforms and e-commerce business for the sector. Secondly, speed and agility in our end-to-end courses. Thirdly, making Sri Lanka a total solutions hub -this is important.”

SLITA has a proud 30 year-history of continued success, and was formally established as a single institution (after merging two institutions) by Parliament Act No. 12 of 2009.

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