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WHOPPING USD 120 mn spent on apparel imports to SL in first 6-M 2021

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“Sri Lanka also knits the world’s most sought after under garment brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Triumph, MNS and Jockey and has been supplying lingerie for reputed lingerie retailers that include limited brands such as , La Senza, Marks & Spencer, H&M, Etam, Lane Bryant, George and many more to United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Belgium and many other countries.”

“It’s somewhat disappointing to note that Sri Lanka as the country considered as one of the best apparel exporters in the world are spending billions on import of garments”, an official from Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAFF) said. JAAF represents five associations that cover supply chain partners, the export-oriented apparel manufacturers, buying offices and representatives of international brands in Sri Lanka.

Member of Sri Lanka Textile Manufacturers Association (SLTMA) and Managing Director, Creative Textile Mill, Industrial Zone, Dankotuwa, Feroze Anver, said that the import figure mirrors a shameful picture on Sri Lanka since the country is one of the largest exporters of apparels.

He said that the mindset of the people also contributed to this as they still don’t have a respect for ‘Made in Sri Lanka products.’

“If you take a men’s ‘night short’ it’s priced at Rs. 200 in Pamunuwa or the pavement but in fashion stores it costs Rs. 400 while in large department malls over Rs. 600 and the import one is Rs. 1,000. But in most cases people go for the imported one. Hence there is a demand and this is why there are large imports.”

He also said that if one examines some of the imported apparels most of them have the ‘made in Sri Lanka’ tag but since it has an international brand, people tend to buy it.

Anver thanked the Central Bank for introducing a ‘Margin Deposit Requirement’ against the Importation of Selected Non-Essential, Non-Urgent Goods made under Letters of Credit.’

This will firstly help to reduce unwanted imports, increase prices on apparel imports and most importantly help local manufactured products sell in the local market.

He said the ‘voucher’ system introduced by the previous government on school uniforms had a major negative impact on the local industry and due to lack of orders they along with several other factories had to shut down their factories. A large number of employees were laid off as well.

“This government has revered this and now we have recommended operations and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with Minister of Industries Wimal Weerawansa visited our factory to see the rapid progress we are making. We are now producing school uniforms, security forces uniforms, National and Buddhist flags and now hope to diversify to other products as well.”

With the purchase of local garments, the Ministry of Education could save up to Rs 80 million annually.

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