Sri Lanka is neither a tea nation nor a cinnamon nation, but an apparel nation, said PB Jayasundera, Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance and Planning and Economic Development, Government of Sri Lanka, in his remarks as Chief Guest at the 10th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF).
Mr. Jayasundera said the Sri Lankan apparel industry has not only surpassed the expectations of the Government, but also successfully faced up to challenges and stood resilient in the face of adversity.
He said the Sri Lankan garment industry has survived the withdrawal of the GSP facility earlier, and last year it faced challenges due to electricity tariff increases and oil price increase.
However, he said the apparel industry should strive to be among the top ten in the world. He pointed out that Sri Lanka should not just be a garment producing centre but should also enter the global market in the category of world class designer fabric producers.
Sri Lanka is a country with best ethical practices, which are an integral part of the country’s businesses, he added.
He assured the apparel industry that there will be no power cuts in Sri Lanka, as power generation is well diversified.
Noel Piyatillake, chairman JAAF, in his speech, said the year 2013 was a historical and monumental year for the Sri Lankan apparel industry due to a number of achievements.
"I am more than delighted that the introduction of Gazette Notification No. 1842/16 of 27 December 2013, under the provisions of Licensing of Shipping Agents Act No. 10 of 1972, the Government has directed that all Shipping Service Providers shall ensure that a Bill of Lading clearly indicates whether the consignment is freight collect or freight pre-paid," Piyatillake said.
"I am delighted that we were able to achieve this enormous benefit to improve our competitiveness,” he added.
He said he was hopeful that the Sri Lanka-China Free Trade Agreement would conclude this year.
Sri Lankan apparel industry has been able to maintain its export growth momentum and has achieved its highest ever level of US$ 4.3 billion compared with $3.8 billion in 2012, he informed, and added that the challenge is not only to sustain this business but also to grow.