WB recommends Sri Lankan apparel sector to enter into more trade pacts

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2016-04-27 16:00:00 – Colombo

Sri Lanka successful in establishing and growing its apparel manufacturing industry, can do more to realize its potential as a regional hub and to continue to boost opportunities, especially for women and the poor, according to a new World Bank report.

World Bank Lead Economist Gladys Lopez-Acevedo speaking at the launch of World Bank’s Stitches to Riches: Apparel Employment, Trade and Economic Development report held in Colombo yesterday said that competition is increasing in the global apparels market with buyers moving towards greater consolidation in sourcing decisions and the impending approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In order to maximize its competitiveness, the World Bank report recommends that Sri Lanka should enter into more trade agreements to help diversify export destinations for existing products, such as active wear and intimate apparel.

Expand into new products such as formal wear and high-end outerwear that require higher skills, and position as regional apparel and textile trade hub taking advantage of its infrastructure advantage

Attract foreign investment through adopting clear investment policies, which currently remains at only 2% of GDP.

Increase integration with South Asia and reduce tariffs for the import of manmade fibres, which accounts for 50% of Sri Lanka’s industry inputs, while encouraging domestic growth. Promote industrial relocation and attract more female workers to relieve its labour shortages.

Sri Lanka should implement policies to become a regional leader in creating good jobs, bringing more women into the work force and diversifying its products and end markets to increase skills and value.

Clothing manufacturing has a lower barrier of entry than many industries and creates jobs that often pay better than alternatives such as agriculture. In Sri Lanka, the average apparel worker earns more than $120 per month, on average, compared to $80 per month for those working in agriculture. Over 70% of apparel workers are women compared to less than 30% in other industries., the report stated.

Sri Lanka’s apparel sector outperforms other South Asian countries in terms of quality, lead time, reliability, along with social compliance and sustainability. Its exports accounts for US$ 4.4 billion.

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