Post GSP, clothing exports will climb - MD, Link Apparel
Mr. Mihindu Ruhunage
Apprehensions about a dip in garment exports from the country are growing within the island country, following the withdrawal of the GSP+ concession extended by the European Union in August this year. However, a top garment exporter begs to differ. He is of the opinion that, despite losing the facility, buyers are still lining up on the shores of Sri Lanka, albeit, due to various other reasons.
According to Mr. Mihindu Ruhunage, Managing Director of Link Apparel Exporters Pvt. Ltd., “Sri Lankan's can withstand as well as have the strength to bear the losses arising from lose of GSP+ facility. Since costs of production have increased in other countries, which have made our products more competitive, so more buyers have started seeking Lankan garment exporters”.
Link Apparel Exporters Pvt. Ltd., which has the approval of Board of Investment (BoI) of Sri Lanka, is located very close to Colombo and employs around 250 workers currently. It is involved in manufacturing of both, knit and woven garments for exports. He lent his manufacturing unit to the government to impart training to 100 ex-LTTE cadre girls, to impart them professional training in the final stage of rehabilitation, during which, the girls proved to be very capable, creative and worked collaboratively.
Mr Ruhunage is of the opinion that, most of the countries, engaged in production of apparels are third world countries, where salary scales are very low, along with long working hours. According to him, if buyers and other related authorities pay more attention to the apparel sector in Sri Lanka, it would help improve living standards of workers and he would like very much to use his knowledge and capability to increase the performance of the industry, which in turn can help increase wages and improve living conditions.
When quizzed about the performance of the Sri Lankan apparel sector in present times, he said, “Sri Lankan's have had a good historic experience in the apparel industry and it was also showing a remarkable growth before the internal strife began in the country, due to which foreign investments dried up as, investors refused to come to here because of the war like situation.
“Highways, harbour's, airports, telecommunication facilities and other infrastructure facilities are being developed in the country and the garment industry is also growing in alignment with the above. Sri Lankan literacy level is 98 percent which is very high. Therefore quality level of the garments is also very high, a fact confirmed and accepted by the leading buyers of the world”.
When asked as to how he envisages the outcome of suspension of GSP+ by the European Union, he optimistically replied by saying, “I am of the opinion that GSP+ is very vital to the country and unfortunately it has been withdrawn, and that too at a time when, the people of the country are trying to rebuild their lives after nearly 30 years of strife and war. But the Sri Lankan's (mainly the Tamil and Sinhala community) are showing a great deal of confidence and have the strength to work under this stressful situation to strive for the success of the industry”.
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India