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Garment sector must focus on high-end market
May '10
According to European Union (EU) Ambassador, Bernard Savage, the Sri Lankan garment sector had already made impressive developments for its growth. But to further improve its figures, the country must take advantage of the opportunities available in hand.

Savage explains that, the Sri Lankan garment sector is strong enough to compete in the global market without any specific incentives. More so, EU had handed its support to the industries as it had identified the important role played by the GSP+ scheme in the garment sector. Currently, the Sri Lankan government and EU are in discussions to come to a positive conclusion.

While Savage feels that, the country's apparel sector no more requires the support of the GSP+ scheme, Prof Lakdas Fernando, Chairman, Sri Lanka Apparel Institute, feels otherwise.

Prof Fernando averred that, the garment sector will achieve greater lengths with the support of GSP+ trade benefits, as the country was no longer a low-priced goods producer.

However, Prof Fernando also informed that, with advantages this trade scheme also had its set of disadvantages. He said, with immediate profits, the scheme, in the long run, also had the chances of creating a direct competition for Sri Lankan clothing sector in the global market.

He also informed that, the sector, while taking advantage of this scheme, must not fully depend on it, as the scheme might turn them lethargic.

Similar situation was faced by Sri Lanka in 2004, when the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) had expired. But the industry, after an initial setback, revitalized and restructured itself to face future challenges.

The country's garment sector is custom-made for mass manufacturing wherein, most clothing producers eye the low-key section of the market.

Prof Fernando informs that, since the country is no longer a low-priced manufacturer of apparels, the only way the sector could survive now, was by moving towards the up-market masses, as it was now the key area for the country to focus for its survival.

With an export business of US $3 billion, the clothing sector contributes 10 percent to GDP. It totals for 67 percent of the industry exports and one-third of the industrial employment.

More than 45 percent of Sri Lanka's export proceeds are generated from this industry that, directly provides employment to 270,000 people.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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