The apparel industry of Sri Lanka has been able to maintain its steadiness and mitigate the impact of recession on the economy by its satisfactory performance in the first quarter of 2009. While Apparel Industry expresses its satisfaction over its performance it acknowledges that it was due to timely action taken by the Government with necessary macro policy adjustment measures, providing relief by implementing proposals announced in the Budget of 2009 and putting in place Export Development Rewards Scheme that enabled Apparel Industry not only to be competitive but also record a growth in exports in the first quarter of 2009.
The total exports of apparel in the first quarter of 2009 was US$ 801.3 million compared with US$ 736.2 million in the previous year thus recording an overall growth of 8.8%. Although exports to the US recorded 4% decline in January-March 2009 with exports recording US$ 346.3 million compared to US$ 360.9 million in the previous corresponding period, exports to the EU increased to US$ 404.4 million in the first quarter 2009 compared to US$ 336.0 in the previous corresponding period, recording a high positive growth of 20.3%.
The performance of the apparel sector in the first quarter of this year should be viewed in the background of all major exports markets of Sri Lanka are in recession and with the export sector facing many challenges both Internationally and Domestically and many other exports sectors of the economy not been able to maintain their previous levels of exports.
The many contributory factors which enabled Apparel Industry to perform satisfactory include removal of surcharge on electricity, reduction in cost of furnace oil and implementing other measures announced in the Budget of 2009. The timely announcement of Export Development Rewards Scheme by the Government and putting in place an implementation structure enabled Apparel Industry to maintain its competitiveness and prevent their major buyers shifting to our competitor countries. The recent adjustment to exchange rates for which the apparel industry has been making representation has also had its desired positive impact.
The membership of Sri Lanka Apparel being the major contributor to foreign exchange earnings of the country accounting for 43% of total export earnings, wishes to express its deep appreciation to HE the President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his far-sightedness in taking necessary macro economic measures and implementing Export Development Rewards Scheme for the benefit of the Industry at a time Sri Lanka is faced with challenges of fighting ruthless terrorism of the LTTE. The Sri Lanka Apparel also wishes to convey its gratitude to Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, M.P and Special Advisor to the President, for the initiatives taken by him to address and resolve many issues affecting the Industry, which immensely contributed to performance of the Apparel Industry. The contribution made by Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Export Development and International Trade for putting in place administrative structure for implementation of EDRS and initiatives taken to find new exports markets, as well as support and assistance provided by Hon. Kumara Welgama, Minister of Industrial Development for implementing many programmes are acknowledged with appreciation. The Sri Lanka Apparel also take this opportunity to thank all other Government institutions for their contribution which enabled our members to perform.
The Sri Lanka Apparel members are acutely aware the challenges they have to face as major International export markets are still in recession. The Sri Lanka Apparel is confident working in partnership with the Government our members will be able to continue to maintain its exports performance.