Considered an alternative to Indian garment industry, Sri Lankan apparel industry has seen tough times of late. However, it still accounts for over 46 per cent of Sri Lanka’s total exports and generates the highest industrial employment opportunities to over 300,000 directly and 600,000 indirectly, which includes a significant number of women. Gauging the importance of the industry, the government has developed research, innovation and design. The sector also maintains high ethical standards and is highly praised for its compliance and labour rights practicing than any other competitive countries. However, on August 15, 2010, the EU suspended Sri Lanka’s GSP+ status, which impacted the industries growth dynamics.
The Sri Lankan government has set out a vision to position Sri Lanka among the top 10 high quality apparel -manufacturing countries in the world by 2020 turning in $8.5 billion in revenue. The country is working with leading international brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Liz Claiborne, Next Jones New York, Nike, Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, Marks& Spencer. However, Sri Lanka’s textile and clothing industry’s export earnings of the first two months of running year recorded decline despite the full order books of large-scale manufacturers. Sri Lanka’s exports statistics of February 2017 show a declined by 2.7 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to $868 million after falling 1.1 per cent in January 2017, extending the year-to-date decline to 3.2 per cent YoY to $1.73 billion. On the other hand, according to Sri Lanka Apparel Export Association, total apparel export has decreased $102.1 million in 2017 January-February over the same time of previous year.