Garment exports modest despite unusual environment

Despite an unhealthy political and economic environment in the country, the apparel industry maintained modest year-on-year growth in June, Yohan Lawrence, general secretary of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), told Sunday Observer Business last week.

He said although the garment industry has been challenging in recent months, it has managed to keep operations running as planned.

The ability to use our export earnings to directly buy diesel to power our generators has helped, and we’ve maintained a steady flow of revenue over the past few months, Lawrence said, adding that amid tremendous challenges, apparel export earnings have fallen by almost 30% this year percent increased to $446 million on May 2 compared to $344 million in the same month last year.

He said the industry is targeting $6 billion in sales this year, adding that the next few months will show if the industry is able to continue on its growth trajectory and achieve that goal.

However, given the bumpy road mapped out for all industries due to global and domestic tensions hampering the smooth running of supply chains, industry experts are speculating that apparel export earnings will fall by a quarter this year.

We continue to strongly urge the authorities to ensure both political and economic stability in the country so that the apparel industry and other export industries can continue to function smoothly and without interruptions, said the head of the apparel forum.

The forum believes the country will pour in much-needed foreign exchange, which it particularly needs at this time.

This will also help keep people engaged, which is the need of the day. Stability is also important to maintaining the confidence of our buyers and protecting Sri Lanka’s global reputation as a reliable sourcing destination for quality apparel. said Lawrence.

The Joint Apparel Association Forum has warned that the country would lose between 10% and 20% of its orders to India and Bangladesh due to the ongoing political and economic crisis that had caused a loss of confidence among buyers.

According to a senior forum official, the current political and economic tensions pose a huge risk of losing these buyers to regional markets.

The Export Development Board reports that the apparel and textile industry brought in $1.9 billion between January and April 2022, a 13% year-on-year increase year-on-year; However, this cannot be sustained unless buyer confidence is restored. Apparel categories include athletic wear, lingerie, loungewear, bridal wear, workwear, swimwear, and children’s wear.

These products are manufactured and exported with the flexibility to cater to specific seasons in many countries around the world; It is no wonder that this industry has experienced tremendous growth over the past four decades and is now Sri Lanka’s number one foreign exchange earner.

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