Sri Lanka’s garment industry has risen to the challenges posed by the pandemic and the sector can contribute more to the country’s economy, provided all stakeholders work together to address critical constraints, garment exporters stress.
These views were expressed at the recent 39th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA), the pioneering association representing the country’s garment exporters.
Clothing exporters have stressed the need for COVID-19 vaccine recalls for staff, addressing domestic macroeconomic constraints – especially the lack of foreign exchange – and increasing access to export markets, so that the industry is realizing its potential.
During the event, the SLAEA executive committee expressed its appreciation for the role played by health and other public authorities in the vaccination of 350,000 employees in the garment industry. However, clothing exporters have stressed the need to obtain COVID-19 recalls for workers in the sector, as the six-month window since the rollout of vaccinations is fast approaching.
In addition, clothing exporters discussed the vital importance of retaining Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus trade concessions to the European Union as well as the UK. It was noted that the country needs to strengthen access to other key and emerging export markets.
“The contribution of the garment industry to the Sri Lankan economy remains unprecedented, a fact duly recognized by the government,” said SLAEA 2021/22 Executive Committee Chairman Aroon Hirdaramani. “However, we are now facing significant problems in the context of the country’s foreign exchange reserve shortages and general economic problems. In collaboration with our umbrella organization – the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) – we are working with authorities on solutions that can continue the growth observed from 2021, with minimal disruption. “
The President of SLAEA also welcomed and appreciated the contribution of the Executive Committee and the members of the association. Under the leadership of the Executive Committee, to overcome the disruption induced by the pandemic, the SLAEA has undertaken several key initiatives. These include the key role played by the association and its individual members in working with authorities on worker safety and vaccinations, as well as the rebranding of the SLAEA.
In 2020, as part of its rebranding, SLAEA rolled out a new logo, website and video promoting the industry, the culmination of over a year of diligent activity by the association’s brand committee. SLAEA seeks to leverage more digital tools to strengthen the positive positioning of Sri Lanka’s garment industry, in order to help increase its market share.
The SLAEA Executive Committee for 2021/22 includes: President – Aroon Hirdaramani (Director – Hirdaramani Group), Vice President – Indika Liyanahewage (CEO – Eskimo Fashions Knitwear), Rehan Lakhany – Past President (President – Original Apparel) and Hon. Treasurer – Jeevith Senaratne (Senior Manager Business Analysis – Star Garments).
Founded in 1982, the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association is the pioneering association of the garment exporting industry in Sri Lanka. It has 72 clothing manufacturers in the country, which account for over 70% of the country’s clothing exports. SLAEA members plan to transform Sri Lanka into the world’s leading clothing sourcing destination.