South Asia, move out of orthodox exports!

Joint Apparel Association Federation (JAAF) Secretary General Tuly Cooray has urged the apparel industry of South Asia to move away from orthodox export processing, like what Sri Lanka has given leadership to, at policy level and business level so that we can unleash the true potential of the South Asian region that has grown by 58% in the last four years.


Cooray made this comment at the South Asian Apparel Leadership Forum at SLDF at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo.


He explained how Sri Lanka could not have been able to move out of the poverty trap unless it moved away from orthodox export processing way back in the 1970s to a more labour intensive modality where raw material is imported and value addition was done to move the apparel industry to a new level in the value chain.


Today, the country has advanced to a new level with a locally-manufactured proposition where the value addition is over 70%, giving an opportunity for more than a million livelihoods to be supported by the industry. This is the direction the South Asian regional apparel industry must follow, said Cooray.


“Now Sri Lanka is trying to take the high ground by creating export orientation by similarities which are prevalent in the region which is the power of the apparel industry of Sri Lanka that will give attempt to give leadership to the South Asian region. The country’s central geographical position adds to the advantage of the country with the strong logistical infrastructure, skill and knowledge that we have built over time that has now given birth to the hub status concept.  This is what makes Sri Lanka unique.”


“Sri Lanka is now attracting new models of business like entrepot trade which can be 100% foreign and jointly owned, which are the drastic policy reforms in place in Sri Lanka. If not for these forward-thinking policy changes that were introduced, the private sector (the apparel industry) would not have been in a situation to talk to the global brand owners on this new model of entrepot trade. This development can propel the industry to five billion dollars for Sri Lanka,” asserted the JAAF Secretary General.


The SLDF 2013 edition attracted the top talent of Sri Lanka from the apparel industry of South Asia region, with its key global partners like Coats, Tradesman and Helman to name a few and celebrity business personalities like Janie Schaffer, brand owner of Knickerbox.