Technology infusion must for apparel growth

Friday, 4 March 2011 03:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Industry officials say SL behind in innovation, says efficiency must increase to sustain growth

By Uditha Jayasinghe

Research and development to introduce new technology into apparel is the need of the day, say top industry officials.

Deputy Minister of External Affairs Neomal Perera officiating at the inauguration of CEMS-Gloval USA's 2nd Textech Sri Lanka 2011 international expo yesterday at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre. Others from left are CEMS Global USA and Asia Pacific President and Group Managing Director Meherun N Islam, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Rohan Abayakoon, Orange Sewing Solutions Managing Director Shafraz Mohammed and Joint Apparel Association Forum Secretary General M.P.T. Cooray.

Joint Apparel Associations Forum (JAAF) Secretary General M.P.T. Cooray and Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Rohan Abeykoon while addressing the opening of the CEMS Global International Exhibition for the Textile and Garment Sector yesterday noted that Sri Lanka was lagging behind in technological advancement needed for the industry’s growth.

The CEMS event is an amalgamation of three exhibitions which brings all the sectors of the apparel sector together with the latest innovations in dyes, chemicals, yarn and fabric under one roof. The Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre (SLECC) will hold the exhibition till 5 March 2011.

Speaking at the opening ceremony both Cooray and Abeykoon emphasised on the importance of developing advanced technology to increase efficiency in the sector to offset global competition. They noted that with the increasing labour costs and high priced suppliers it was imperative for factories to obtain better machinery so that their efficiency could rise.

“We want to become a Rs.5 billion industry by 2016 but this target can be met faster if there is greater focus on research and development not only on machinery but also different business models.

With our decades of experience we can export knowledge and covert Sri Lanka into an apparel hub,” Cooray pointed out adding that it was time for apparel to learn lessons from the mobile and vehicle industries.

This view was echoed by Abeykoon who stressed that exports had jumped by 20%-30% in the last quarter of 2010 and prospects for rapid growth was good. In a rapidly changing global scenario spurred on by higher labour costs in China and capacity issues in Bangladesh as well as the North African unrest he predicted that Sri Lanka would stand to gain more growth in 2011.

“We are currently working on urging the government to forge bilateral ties with emerging markets such as Japan, Brazil, China and even India to increase our exports and reduce production costs,” he said expectantly calling on machinery suppliers to grant easy payment terms to factories. “It would be beneficial to both parties if payment could be made in instalments because many businesses find it difficult to find enough money to pay upfront.”

The increase in efficiency would assist to shore up the shortfall created by the loss of GSP+ opined the Exporters Association Chairman.