Apparel export target of US$ 8 bn, achievable by 2025 - Hirdaramani | Daily News
Vaccine not panacea for COVID-19 and industry must maintain health guidelines

Apparel export target of US$ 8 bn, achievable by 2025 - Hirdaramani

Hirdaramani Group Director Aroon Hirdaramani noted that the US $ 10 billion goal for Sri Lankan apparel exports by 2025 was unfeasible but that the sector could aim to achieve US$ 8 billion by 2025. He noted the difficulty in reaching that figure and noted that the pandemic had caused serious damage to the industry. Hirdaramani highlighted that with additional local value addition through ventures such as the fabric park in Eravur the country was well placed to grow. Hirdaramani was speaking on an American Chamber ‘Be Inspired’ webinar series held recently. He praised the government’s vaccination drive helping keep BOI companies operational. Over 90% of the apparel sector workforce has received the first jab with over 70% receiving the second jab.

Hirdaramani through the dynamics of the pandemic has decided to shift towards a key partnership strategy. The company will look to deal with a few high-value partners that will create a more stable business environment. He noted that this notion of partnership extended to employees and suppliers who played a vital role in delivering the final product. Higher utilization of local inputs is expected to increase the resilience of the sector.

Hirdaramani said during the pandemic there was considerable disruption to the consumption and supply cycles of the business and millions of dollars worth of raw material were stuck in limbo causing considerable planning problems for the industry. Hirdaramani called on policymakers to understand the importance of GSP+. The industry’s ability to hit US$ 5 billion in exports was mainly driven by a rise in exports to European markets. He acknowledged that the policymakers were in dialogue with the industry and the significance of the trading scheme was understood.

Star Garments Group Senior Manager Jeevith Senaratne said that though figures on a Year-on-Year basis are good this comparison is misleading due to the low figures shown in 2020. Senaratne further highlighted that the figures were still 10% below the figures in 2019. Even today the industry is 10-15% off full capacity in production.

Star Garments has prioritized 3D printing during the pandemic and has invested in creating a completely virtual showroom. Today 50% of the company’s samples are done virtually with over 600 virtual samples being produced. Brandix Clothing Company Director Hasib Omar praised the government’s vaccination rollout. He noted however that the vaccine wasn’t a panacea for COVID-19 and that the industry continued to maintain the health guidelines for vaccinated workers. Omar highlighted that the industry was highly polluting and that would be a future pain point for clients.

MAS Holdings Executive Director Shirendra Lawrence noted that mental health was a concern for the sector during the pandemic. He highlighted that new production processes might be causing additional strain on the workers.

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