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Sri Lanka to achieve the apparel export target of 10 billion US dollar by 2016

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2014-06-23 00:00:00 – Colombo

Sri Lanka’s apparel makers have starting feel the need to popularize their brand among the local people as it has shown a grown of 10 percent in the domestic industry from the last year. There is a scope to further enhance the market as a huge untapped market locally exist, which needs to be addressed and cater good quality garments for an affordable price.

Indradatta Dharmawardane, President of Sri Lanka Apparel Brands Association speaking at the launch of Sri Lanka Apparel Brands Association (SLABA), which was rebranding the Domestic Garment Manufacturers Association (DGMA) founded by the late A Y S Gnanam said that they are currently targeting a bigger share of an estimated two billion US dollar domestic market.

But from now onwards their target will be to replace the balance 60 percent and drive a brand driven market for their own citizens. The local manufactures cover only 40 percent of the domestic market.

According to Analysts, the industry should not try to take market share by calling on rulers to push up import duties on ready-made apparel to achieve autarky of 'self-sufficiency' by oppressing the less fortunate citizens through protectionism, like some other rent seeking industries are doing.

In the 1970s and 1980s Sri Lankans were oppressed and their freedoms stolen by a handful of state and private textiles firms and forced to buy kerosene-smelling cloth at high prices under protectionism to be self-sufficient.

Import protection for textiles was ended in the 1990s and now some Sri Lanka based textile firms export their product in addition to supplying locally based apparel firms.

The retail value of the domestic market is estimated to two billion dollars which comprises imports and domestic products, the association said.

In 10 years time, there are lot of new domestic brands has come to the market like Kelly Felder, Avirate, Amante. These brands have emerged due to the demand of the market and that is a positive sign. Hameedias, Reborn, Avirate and Amante are among the few brands that have started expanding abroad.

They intend to be recognized and grow their local brand in to global. All these effects are to position Sri Lanka as an apparel hub to the world and at the same time it will enhance the capacity to cater into global market. The industry accounts for around half of the country's exports.

In the first four months of 2014 apparel and textile exports rose 20.9 percent to 1,601 million US dollars from a year earlier, making up 44 percent of total exports. USA imports 80 percent of the total garment exports in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is now heading towards achieving the apparel export target of 10 billion US dollar by 2016 and to achieve this target, the plans are on pipeline to op0en up a whole sale mall for international and domestic buyers to buy any fabric requirements and branding cloths. This will cater as one stop shop for any buyer to cater their apparel requirement.

This will help Sri Lanka to position them as a hub for fabrics and help to spread quality garments to the world.

The mall will be located in Colombo and the plans are still being negotiated with the government. They want to have one location where all the Sri Lankan brands can be displayed, said Gehan De Soysa, executive committee member of the Sri Lanka Apparel Brands Association.

The industry sees Middle East and Africa as potential markets for Sri Lankan garments.

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