Sri Lanka’s Government declared Colombo and Hambantota as free ports, which the export industry foresees would help boost revenue by an extra US$ 1billion, and the decision is welcomed by apparel sector of Sri Lanka, according to the press release of The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) of Sri Lanka.
“It is a long-term strategic move with the objective of making Sri Lanka a knowledge-based economic hub, thus deviating from the existing traditional mode of manufacturing and supply. JAAF, the apex body which guides the destiny of the US$4 billion industry, has been advocating this move,” JAAF Secretary General Tuli Cooray said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as the Minister of Finance last week released a Gazette notification titled Commercial Hub Regulation No. 1 of 2013, which will be applicable to all new enterprises established or incorporated in Sri Lanka.
Speaking of the apparel sector and the immense benefits the industry could accrue under this new regulation, Cooray said that the apparel sector alone would anticipate an additional foreign exchange turnover of US$1 Billion (Rs. 1320 million) by the year 2018. Based on the current scenario in international business climate the apparel sector has set itself a target of achieving US$5 billion in 2015 through garment exports. A further US$1 billion is targeted from the emerging new market in China around that time, together will make the Apparel Sector worth nearly US$7 billion before the end of 2020, he added.
“We (the apparel sector) will mobilise all our existing resources to promote the new opportunity that has been opened and significantly improve our participation in reinforcing the national economy,” the Secretary-General added.
The JAAF has played a vital role in the formulation of the new regulation and actively participated in most of the consultative processes capitalising on the Government’s “Open Forum” policy where input from all shades of stake holders were considered before the CHR was introduced, he added.
The five-year strategic plan of the JAAF which was rolled out in 2010 has outlined the significance of enhancing its present role as a manufacturing and supplying garments to a totally integrated solution provider for the international apparel sources, facilitating end to end solutions starting from research and development , supply chain services, logistics etc.
Citing an example of success, the JAAF has pointed out that Hong Kong and Singapore have reached high level competitiveness by providing similar services and has been recognised world-wide. In that scenario re-export of textile and apparel have played a vital role in improving trade between Singapore and other countries.
The JAAF concept paper said, “The Sri Lanka Apparel industry, particularly strong companies well connected to the market, would be able to create additional business by providing hub services from Sri Lanka to low cost countries in the region providing high value-added services both at the front end as well as back-end support.”
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