Treasury Secretary Dr P.B. Jayasundara said the clothing industry has consolidated with the economy. Sri Lanka`s total exports amounts to US$ 7.2bn out of which clothing accounts for US$ 3.3 bn which is about 46 percent of the total exports, Dr Jayasundera told a seminar.
The seminar on `Insight to efficiency optimization to elevate the Sri Lankan garment industry to meet the global competition was held at the Galadari hotel recently. This was organized by the Textile Institute, Sri Lanka section in collaboration with A&E Lanka Ltd.
He further said that Sri Lanka imports $ 10.5 bn per year thus having a net importer value of US$ 3.3 bn. Dr Jayasundara inquired from the industry whether this could be reversed so that Sri Lanka could have surplus exports.
He said the government will address the imports whilst the industry to increase the export value. To make this a reality, the entire industrial sector will have to increase at least US $ 3.3 bn in exports and he requested the clothing industry to contribute about US $ 1.6 bn in the next 3-5 years.
This is the challenge he posed at the industry. In order to materialize this concept, the clothing industry will have to find new markets in addition to the traditional markets. Among the new markets, it would be necessary to identify global niche markets, was his opinion.
Textile Institute, Sri Lanka Section Chairman Dr Rohana Kuruppu and Brandix College of Clothing Technology made a presentation on global trends in the clothing industry and its impact on Sri Lanka`s industry. He argued that the global economy in the context of clothing business is not with negative growth but with opportunities for those who can make use of it. He emphasized that markets in US and EU are sluggish but countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh have made significant progress in 2008.
He explained that SAARC and ASEAN countries have become leading suppliers to US and EU clothing markets. Dr Kuruppu pointed out that price of imports to US stood at average US$ 1.85 per square meter equivalent (sme) but SAARC countries have maintained at US$ 1.69 per sme during 2008. Surprisingly, the average price of imports from ASEAN countries was at US$ 2.68 per sme during the same period, lamented Dr Kuruppu.
This means, the price within the SAARC countries is very competitive and there may be good reasons for ASEAN countries to fetch 37 percent more than South Asian countries to US market.
At the same time, he presented statistics to confirm that prices rose in the EU market too. The average price of imports from Vietnam rose by a significant 49 percent during 2008.
These data suggests that US and EU markets have potential growth and left to individual countries to plan their strategy to increase their market share.
Open University Senior Lecturer Dr Anbahan Ariyadural suggested that qualifications and training have not correlated with efficiency and therefore, it is necessary to study variables that cause ineffectiveness in training.