At end November 2013 apparel exports stood at US $3.876 billion, which was pretty much the level that they were in 2012.
Year to date exports are up by 11% and there is optimism in terms of achieving the US $4 billion target for the current year.
Chairman of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association, Yohan Lawrence said, "with the current flow of garments for the winter market, generally most businesses have had a busy quarter with fair demand for the winter season. Currently it is a little early to get a view of sales over the holiday period in our main markets, but there's a fair level of buoyancy."
The local industry has a healthy level of competition among companies and that's a good thing. It keeps companies on the front foot, ensuring that we as an industry remain competitive. Sri Lanka is not the cheapest place to make apparel, but Sri Lanka apparel offers a package of great product quality, good design and development, high ethical and environmental practices, good delivery records, ease of doing business, lack of red tape, etc all of which help make Sri Lanka apparel a strong offer in the market. Lawrence also emphasized the work of logistics of getting products in and out of Sri Lanka, which is of no small caliber but still, making the whole institute of doing work easily.
Sri Lankan apparel focuses on the existing areas of production, which comprises of lingerie, children wear, casual and active wear but there are also larger sectors included where the country has embarked on offering more technically enhanced products through new technologies. "Currently, Sri Lanka exports to many markets. We are hoping that with the forthcoming FTA with China that this will in time help build volumes in those markets. We are also looking to a further relaxation of the Indian agreement which should help the industry. The year to date as was mentioned is US $3.876 billion, which is made up as ($1.653 bn), EU ($1.785 bn) and $437 mn to other countries," Lawrence added.
The industry is classified under woven (Chapter 62) and knitted fabrics (Chapter 61). Generally, woven fabrics has increased less than knitted and noticeably, this is where most products sit. Indicating the significance of positive attributes on the method of logistics, which is done in no small way, also needs to be emphasized. Lawrence also added that in general, the industry is in a positive place. With competition in the retail sector is as high as it is, there is great pressure on price from buyers. Markets in the US and EU are stagnating and it will be interesting to see the progress of sales in those markets over the holiday period as that will have an influence on forward orders. Hopefully, retailers will have a good season and stocks will keep moving.