|Friday, 14 March 2003|
By Channa Kasturisinghe
Government and private sector stakeholders of the country's apparel sector have joined hands to increase the industry turnover from its present position of US$ 2.3 billion to US$ 4.5 billion by 2007.
The apparel sector task force appointed by the Government has formulated a five year strategy to achieve this target by transforming the industry from a 'contract manufacturer' to a provider of a 'fully integrated service' able to penetrate the premium market segments in the world. The sectoral report was handed over to the Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion Minister Prof. G.L Peiris in Colombo yesterday.
The Minister said the Government is vigorously lobbying with the US authorities for tariff concessions and quotas to help the country's apparel industry to move forward successfully once the quota system is phased out in 2005.
He said the Government is keen to sign a fully fledged Free Trade Agreement with the US and has received a positive response from the US Government which would be a tremendous opportunity to boost the country's economy, especially the apparel industry.
Chairman of the Task Force Mahesh Amalean said that one objective of the strategy is to become internationally recognised in specific product categories in order to compete with larger players such as China.
"Presently, Sri Lanka's apparel exports are heavily concentrated in the two large global markets of the US and European Union, which brings about a heavy dependency in terms of business risk. We should diversify into new markets to increase export volumes while reducing its present dependency on two geographical regions. The global development of Preferential Trade Agreements also should be addressed as it poses an additional threat to our industry.
Where price continues to be an important factor globally, Sri Lanka is not as competitive as it should be due to poor labour productivity and insufficient technological advancement, while improving on lead times is an absolutely necessary," he said.
Amalean said that it was important to implement a deliberate phasing out program over the next two years to lessen the impact of the 2005 quota free era and at the same time provide avenues and directions for industries requiring to exit the apparel sector.
Produced by Lake House