Sri Lanka’s apparel export earnings rose to $ 487.6 million in January, overtaking the $ 452 million record in January 2019, prior to the pandemic, by 8% , and the growth over January 2021 export earnings was 23%, according to the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF).
Accordingly, Sri Lanka’s apparel exports in January 2022 achieved the highest level for that month in the last five years. This performance demonstrates the industry’s underlying strength as it bounced back from the shocks sustained from the impact of the pandemic over the last two years.
“Amidst significant turbulence, this strong performance is testimony to the resilience of Sri Lanka’s apparel industry and augurs well for the industry’s progress towards realising its goals for 2025,” said JAAF Secretary General Yohan Lawrence.
The industry’s 2030 vision is to transform Sri Lanka to a global apparel hub while an intermediate goal is to increase annual export earnings from apparel to $ 8 billion by 2025.
“Through close co-operation between all key stakeholders, the apparel industry can further increase its already strong contribution to the national economy as a major generator of vital foreign exchange and high-quality employment,” Lawrence added.
The industry’s January 2022 performance also reflects the success of rigorously applied safety measures adopted by the sector, in close co-operation with health authorities, to minimise the spread of the pandemic among employees to zero. Additionally, apace with the national vaccination drive, 65% of employees in Sri Lanka’s apparel sector have now received both doses and the booster, while 95% of employees have received at least both doses. Apparel exporters also proactively adopted additional safety measures, even before the Omicron variant came to Sri Lanka.
“Ensuring the health and safety of the employees of the sector, through continued rigorous adherence to safety and health protocols remains our top priority,” said Lanka Garments (Pvt.) Ltd. Managing Director (MD) Saif Jafferjee. “This approach has sustained the industry’s resilience and reduced the negative impact of Covid-19, while also ensuring business continuity, thus protecting thousands of livelihoods and income sources.”
Recent performance also reflects the success of measures like digital product development technology adoption that helped mitigate supply chain disruptions. Larger firms also supported smaller ones by collaborating with them on meeting the export order rush.
“January’s impressive performance was also made possible by strong demand from buyers and the healthy pipeline of orders for upcoming months, which are grounds for optimism,” Jafferjee noted, adding: “The international outlook remains challenging, however, considering growing tensions in Europe.”