‘Viru Diyani’ to build apparel capacity

Thursday, 3 February 2011 01:24 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Industry launches fresh image building campaign
  • promotes nine factories in the north and east
  • predicts 4% growth in 2010

By Uditha Jayasinghe

In a bid to expand its capacity, the apparel industry is launching a new image building campaign at the cost of Rs. 55 million to attract more employees and create awareness of economic contribution.

The campaign, titled ‘Viru Diyani,’ will be launched on Independence Day and will continue for a full year. During that time a road show will kick off from Buttala, in the Moneragala District, at ‘Dayata Kirula,’ which will be held from 4-10 February. The road show will proceed thereafter to all nine provinces of the country to showcase apparel industry contributions to the regions and create awareness about the opportunities and potential for greater regional participation in the industry’s future.

A highlight of the campaign will be the collective stitching of the national flag by apparel factories located in the different provinces of the country, representing regional unity and collective strength.

This national flag will be presented to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on completion in time for the 2012 Independence Day,” explained Local Image Building Sub-Committee Chairman Channa Palansuriya, addressing the media.

He also insisted that employment opportunities would expand, especially in rural areas, and that youth are encouraged to apply. Given that the industry is targeting US$ 5 billion income by 2015, capacity building is considered to be extremely important.

The industry recorded an export income growth of 3.7% from January to November of 2012 with exports totalling US$  3.038 billion and expectations of the Joint Apparel Associations Federation  (JAAF) is that the year will end with 4% growth. 

“Prices in 2012 are expected to grow by 8% year on year,” stressed JAAF Secretary General M.P.T. Cooray, noting that the increase would be divided between a selling price hike of 3% and remainder from quantity growth. Officials expressed confidence that the global recession impact was over and more labour was needed to increase Sri Lanka’s capacity.

“It is estimated that there is as many as 15,000 vacancies in factories, but this is mostly in the free trade zones. Costs are high in these areas so some company might be reluctant to take on new employees. This is why we are encouraging new companies to move to rural areas, including the north and east.”

Palansuriya mentioned that nine applications had been made by companies to establish factories in the north, with the possibility of employing 9,000 people. However, the projects are still awaiting land and infrastructure green lights from the Government.

“We are expecting significant investment from these areas,” he said, adding that Orit Lanka planned to infuse US$ 12 million within the next two years.

Exports to Japan planned

The  Joint Apparel Associations Federation (JAAF) is lobbying for the Government to negotiate exports to Japan, with the possibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and other duty free concessions in the pipeline.

JAAF Chairman A. Sukumaran is response to questions by the media stated that opening new markets was outlined in the five year strategic plan launched by the organisation and that they had made presentations based on the same to the Government before the Budget.

This resulted in policy adjustments included in the Budget that outlined ways to expand business in several countries outside of traditional markets, including Japan, Brazil and Canada.

“We are confident that given our close relationship with Japan, the Sri Lankan Government can negotiate assistance for our apparel exports,” he said, adding that the measures were still at a starting stage.