Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SAEA), Pioneer Association of the apparel export industry hopes to be a US $ 5 billion industry by 2015.
Chairman of SAEA, Rohan Abayakoon told Daily News Business that though last year was a tough year for them, they are aiming at the US $ 5 billion mark.
“Last year our income was around US $ 4 billion. However, this year as a result of the economic downfall in Europe and the United States we have experienced a 7 to 8 % reduction in terms value and volume and currently the industry value is US $ 3.6 billion,” he said.
The SAEA plans to turn around this situation by looking in to new markets and build stronger ties with the existing markets.
The first step of renewing ties began a few days back at the Taiwan Textile Fair which was held in Sri Lanka for the first time.
“Taiwan and Sri Lanka has a long relationship in terms of trade however it had wavered through the years and is presently 10 % and we hope to strengthen it further.
We are also looking at Brazil as a new market despite complications,” Abayakoon said. According to him, the tariffs imposed by Brazil authorities on their exports are at an insufferable 30 %. Due to this we can not go all out to Brazil and have to further look for new markets.”
“I believe that there should be some kind of leverage that can bridge the gap and the country can reap the benefits as Sri Lanka can do much better if we could overcome these barriers of tariff.
We are looking for some relief in this regard from the government.” He also said that the lack of the GSP+ affects the country in a negative way and the single most affective method of turning around the industry would be by applying for the GSP+ in 2013 as all the other competitors are profiting from its benefits.
“If the government would approach this, I am confident that we will be able achieve a lot,”Abayakoon said.
Abayakoon said that last year they had to increase the price of garments by 20 % as they anticipated heavy losses.
“However depreciation of the rupee cushioned the anticipated lessees. But the depreciation of the rupee did not help when it came to our imports,” he said.