Future Trends and Recommendations For Sri Lanka Apparel Industry

Future Trends & Recommendations For Sri Lankan Apparel Industry
Harshani Wijendra
Sri Lanka Institute of Textile & Apparel Technology (SLITA)
Email: harshani_bipasha@yahoo.com

The future of the Sri Lankan apparel industry will depend on how successfully the Sri Lankan momentum is maintained internationally and also on the progress of building a competitive edge in the international markets. In the past, our country has always survived among the other competing countries that were benefited by quotas, reduced labour cost, government incentives etc. The current context the “Competitiveness” is defined as, emanating from value addition, such as targeting specialized markets, adding unique features to products, product & service differentiation, and improving product quality etc.
 Sri Lankan apparel Industry
 Sri Lankan apparel Industry
There has to be some extent of emulation of the strategies adopted by the other competing countries. With the intension of penetrating into new markets, the industry should adopt strategies to reduce cost of production, improve productivity, train and develop labour skills, enhance and encourage local & foreign investment, more product focus, investment in new technology etc. In par with the above, the government too must improve the infrastructure facilities and ensure minimum disruption to the work environment to support to maximize the garment production and export volumes.

Even though the cheap labour encouraged the garment production and the granting of quota system to the local apparel industry in the past, the cheap labour factor is not in existence anymore as compared with emerging markets of China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh etc. It is much advisable that concentration is placed on the labour cost per product than the labour cost per hour to thrive in the future.

The high literacy rate and the easily trainable work force are advantages possessed by the country. Therefore, it should pave the path to provide more training institutions to facilitate a higher quality and productivity in the industry.

The productivity and efficiency of labour is also associated with the introduction and development of new technological usage. The key elements of efficiency improvement being, the proper time management, collection of information on production, detect errors and wastages, work measurement etc. which can be improved with the advance technological compliance. Improving health and safety, building environmental friendly work practices, can move the local industry ahead of most of the other neighboring competitors. The industry should adhere and comply with certifications such as Eco-Labeling, ISO 9,000 and ISO 14,000, to enter the new markets enabling to build the better brad image.

The country is at a geographical disadvantage, as it is far from the industry’s main markets. The lead time of the industry is quite high compared to the western competitors such as Mexico. This could be eliminated by focusing on new markets with lesser lead times and by usage of air freight for faster delivery.

The raw material base of the industry should be strengthened by improved relations with the world class fabric and accessory producers. Also by enhancing and encouraging foreign investments for the raw material and accessory producers locally.

In elaborating further, less political intervention in labour matters, improved and consistent macroeconomic environment, international policy negotiations, better coordination with the industry producers, would be encouraging to develop a more conducive environment for industry growth in future.

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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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