Apparel industry targets $ 4.1 b exports in 2013

Thursday, 11 April 2013 01:13 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

As Sri Lanka draws near its ‘Y2015 apparel target’ while battling defiant international markets, it is also closing in on its $ 4 b resolute apparel exports goal. The country will also link its SME apparel sector shipments to the global ASYCUDA e-system by next month.

“We are steadily approaching the 2015 target of $ 4 b apparel exports, set by the ‘Mahinda Chinthana,’ and towards this end we have already achieved $ 3.8 b exports in 2012. This year we are aiming at apparel exports revenue of $ 4.1 b,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on Tuesday.

Bathiudeen was addressing the Sri Lanka Institute of Textile and Apparels (SLITA) Awards 2013 event at the BMICH. Operating under the Industry and Commerce Ministry, SLITA – Sri Lanka’s apparel training, development and consultancy giant – not only conducts sessions for Sri Lankan participants but also students from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. SLITA, which reported earnings of $ 757,000 in 2012, also provides its services outside the country on requests made by the Apparel Export Promotion Council of India.

The 9 April event, the second awards to be held after 2010, was in fact three events in one – awarding of apparel diplomas, awarding of Sri Lanka’s first trained batch of leather and footwear students, as well as awards for 36 SME apparel factories for achievements in productivity. A total of 182 new apparel graduates – skilled in middle level – received awards from Bathiudeen.

“I commend SLITA for being a self-sustaining institution and not looking for any State funds from the Treasury,” said Bathiudeen, praising SLITA’s revenues, reported at $ 757,000 (Rs. 95 m) in 2012.

“In order to achieve the $ 4 b target, my Ministry has already invested $ 1.39 m during the last five years for apparel productivity improvement and SME apparel skills development programs. This year we are spending another US$ 160,000, on the same programs. More importantly I am pleased to say that for the first time we are now planning to link Sri Lanka’s SME apparel exporters to the ASYCUDA global customs electronic system. If our current preparations continue as planned, we believe that we can link our SME apparel exporters’ shipments to the ASYCUDA global e-system by May 2013,” added Bathiudeen.

In 2012 Sri Lanka’s apparel exports recorded $ 2.83 b earnings, of which $ 1.53 b was from the US and $ 1.86 b was from the EU, despite the challenging situation in these markets. In the same year 71 SME garment exporters shipped $ 46.7 m apparel from Sri Lanka, highlighting the unrealised future growth potential of the SME apparel sector.

“Our Ministry is closely working with the Chamber of Garment Exporters of Sri Lanka,” said Ministry of Industry and Commerce Secretary Anura Siriwardene, who is also the SLITA Chairman.

“At present, our apparel industry is faced with the issue of lack of workers and skilled cadre. Therefore these diplomates, who have been trained for the middle management, will address this shortfall. With the assistance of the Chamber of Garment Exporters as well as the academic support of the Open University and the Moratuwa University, we have been able to redress the skills training issue,” Siriwardene added.