Sri Lanka’s ongoing economic and political turmoil has pushed the country back in terms of development. However, sectors like apparel continue to brave the storm by creating a sense of consolidation
With the apparel sector targeting to achieve export earnings of USD 6 billion by 2022, the industry is witnessing increased cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders.
“The industry is witnessing a level of collaboration between manufacturers that we have never seen,” Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Secretary General Johan Lawrence told New York-based media entity Sourcing Journal on Friday (22).
He shared that there is a ‘genuine’ country-first approach. “That’s something. It wasn’t a walk in the park though,” Lawrence added.
Sri Lanka’s garment sector has held its ground through months of turmoil, even as manufacturers have had to answer pressing questions from anxious investors and buyers. Things only seem to be getting worse for an economy reeling from the effects arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, but the key issue is the challenges in processing orders amid ongoing shortages of utilities and raw materials.
According to Star Garments Group Director of Operations Jeevit Senaratna, buyers have expressed concern about the country’s instability and volatility affecting economic activity. However, the local garment sector has succeeded in moving forward.
“Every time there is a protest, questions are asked. We maintain that in every major protest we are still working on the same scale because the protesters are not trying to sabotage the industry, they are making a statement to the government,” Senaratne was quoted as saying by Source Journal.
Every factory was operating at 100 percent capacity on July 9 when tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets, he noted.
Policy changes were introduced that helped ease the burden, including allowing manufacturers to buy fuel directly from suppliers using their own money, managing transport for workers and getting diesel for generators.
However, concerns remain and the biggest are the external shocks that are beginning to affect demand.