In case there was any ambiguity, Sri Lanka has announced itself as primarily an apparel-producing nation. P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Treasury, said that the economic future of Sri Lanka hinges on it continuing to become a major global player in garment manufacturing and exporting.
Jayasundera delivered his remarks at the Tenth Annual General Meeting of the Joint Apparel Association Forum. He painted a hopeful picture of the apparel industry in Sri Lanka, especially given its loss of special status under the E.U.’s Generalized System of Preferences. The country has also struggled with substantial increases in electricity and oil tariffs.
Jayasundera also anticipated that Sri Lanka will soon become a top ten power not only in garment production but in design as well, as its technology continues to improve and work force becomes progressively more skilled.
And there are certainly signs that Sri Lanka is poised for impressive growth. It exported $4.5 billion worth of apparel in 2013, 13% more than in 2012, according to data released by its Central Bank. Total garment exports for 2013 comprised 43% of the country’s total exports, up from 40% the year before.
In 2013, Sri Lanka unseated Pakistan as the number ten U.S. apparel source country, shipping a total of $1.6 billion, an increase of 11.6% over 2012.
Also, providing another sign of Sri Lanka’s increasing sophistication, Intertek, a quality and testing certification company, opened a textiles and apparel testing laboratory in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka. The laboratory will be equipped with cutting-edge technology that performs physical and analytical testing.
Sri Lanka’s biggest export customers are the U.S. and the E.U., which collectively account for more than 70 percent of apparel exports.
And Sri Lanka is currently negotiating a new free trade agreement with China that could have a significant impact on its exports there, which already reached $108 million in 2012.