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Sri Lankan apparel makers seek concessions to import labour

22nd Sep 2017

Sri Lanka’s deputy minister for national policies and economic affairs Harsha de Silva recently said the nation’s apparel industry is seeking government concessions to import labour from regional economies, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, to tackle shortage of skilled labour. Thousands of jobs are vacant in the apparel sector in the industrial zones, he said.

The deputy minister, however, expressed doubts over the sustainability of the apparel industry, even if it was allowed to import labour. Though the sector has served Sri Lanka reasonably well for the past several decades, it will have very limited scope to move forward unless it upgrades itself to the next level by focussing on high-tech and designer apparel, he said. Only a few Sri Lankan companies have invested in such high-end technologies at present.

Labourers are not keen to take up low-level jobs in the apparel industry, the deputy minister added. He was speaking at a seminar on US generalized system of preferences (GSP) organised by the Sri Lanka-USA Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Some other sectors, such as shipbuilding, construction and plantations, have also shown interest in importing labour due to the same reason, but protectionist elements are resisting such attempts, according to a Sri Lankan English-language daily. (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India