01st April 2011, www.dailynews.lk, By Ramani Kangaraarachchi
The apparel industry will be able to achieve the growth target of US $ 5 billion in 2015 contributing to the GDP and the economy in the future too.
Newly elected Apparel Exporters Association 200GFP Chairperson Ramya Weerakoon said the industry is competing in an uneven playing field in the international arena. Large number of countries are competing in the international market.
“Despite these challenges it is the only industry that continued to grow despite the war and the recession,” she said.
Weerakoon said the competitiveness of the Sri Lankan product is eroded due to various reasons. India has entered into a free trade agreement with Japan and so is Indonesia with Bangladesh. Preferential treatment in all the markets they compete both India and Pakistan support with their export subsidies. This has affected the Lankan market.
Weerakoon said the Human Resource Department is an essential area that requires attention because of the demand for labour, where challenges were not existent during the war period.
The new demand for labour has been created by other sectors and by the apparel industry, but the availability was limited from apparel industry side.
The target of US $ 5 billion is divided into two in terms of exports manufactured in Sri Lanka both in new and existing plans.
The balance growth is expected from knowledge based on apparel exports using the new macroeconomic policy and the trade regime.
Weerakoon hoped to focus on the growth agenda of the industry during her tenure as the Chairperson.
She appreciated the extensive amendments made to the Inland Revenue laws, VAT law and other related regulatory mechanisms. However, further regulatory mechanisms and introducing a conducive environment to make the country’s export competitive is warranted, she said.
The policy framework has created an interest among all entrepreneurs to enter into more business activities which will make Sri Lanka an emerging economy, aspiring to have USD 4,000 as capital.
This has also created a challenge to the industry compelling the country to look for opportunities in other parts of the country and industrialists would like to explore this opportunity in full, she said.
The Sri Lanka Institute of Textile and Apparel is to improve its capacity to cater to the modern demand in the industry. Weerakoon proposed to the Government to provide vocational training to school leavers, to engage in training for the apparel industry which could absorb such trained work force in a very short period.
The industry is now compelled to look at alternatives in the region. It could provide jobs to the nation, close to their homes. Enabling the industry to shoulder this responsibility. She requested the Government to grant possible concessions to go into or to relocate the industry in regional areas.
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